Bits of home
This weekend I took two buses, one taxi, and five airplanes. It’s been a week full of mini-adventures amid this larger adventure at Banff. Even as I develop my paintings, I find myself setting out on adventure hikes for ideas. Adventures really seem to be what frame this time for me.
On Friday all of us in the “In Kind” Negotiations along with some other artists loaded ourselves into a rented school bus and ventured two hours east to Calgary for Stronger than Stone: (Re)inventing the Indigenous Monument. A group of artists and academics came together to organize conversations around monuments and how they are often violent acts against indigenous people. Most monuments only tell one version of history, one that often celebrates the oppression of indigenous people. I’m still thinking about how we can create monuments or memorials that tell fuller histories or at least open up discussions of history, instead of simplifying it. What should we remember? Can we remember everything, always? Everything fades–even stone as the wind and water weather it away. We heard from a long list of accomplished artists and writers including Jimmie Durham via Skype. I plan on writing a response to what I learned later–I’m still processing all the of rich conversations.
I hopped on a plane the next day, bound for Baltimore for a family event; and I flew back two days later. It’s always amazing to me that I can pack a backpack and find myself thousands of miles from where I began the morning. For me, traveling makes me really question what I need. And what do I like for my own comfort, and is comfort necessarily superfluous?
These questions were really intense as I packed my studio up for Banff. I managed to fit almost everything I need to make paintings in a large suitcase. I ordered a few supplies from the Calgary art store, and I was set. I packed another suitcase with my clothes and essentials along with my backpack as a carry on. I felt anxious that I needed so much, but also surprised at how little it actually was. Then as I began to work in my studio and fill it with the scents of linseed oil and mineral spirits, I realized that this space, the space of making paintings, is a home for me. I find so much comfort when I hang up my coat and sit down at my table and scrape off yesterday’s dried paint on my palette.
My work is about searching for home and questions about how fixed home really is. I always knew that was part of my personality and of my art practice; but I didn’t realize until recently that painting itself is a part of home for me. Home is a strange collection of place, of people, and apparently of art practice.