I apparently like to do almost everything in a serial fashion. So, this is the beginning of a bunch of posts about the first time I encountered a whole bunch of things. Don't worry, it's mostly about art stuff. I didn't do much in my twenties that didn't have to do with studying or producing art work. Lucky me. My thirties...ah, we don't need to talk about most of that. My forties...well, you are all experiencing my forties with me. Onward with the yackity yack.
I was a junior in college, which means it was 1984ish. It could have been 1985ish. It could have actually been my senior year. I was one of those five year undergrad folks who switched majors and ended up going an extra year. FYI, I studied Architecture and Urban Planning for three years. You'd never be able to tell by talking to me since I push all information that has stressed me out into the "blocked out zone". I won't be recalling too much of those three years of college. Ugh. Oh...yes...let us proceed with the encounter. New paragraph.
It was my junior or senior year in college, let's go with that rendition. Oh, wait. Let's not. It WAS my junior year because as I recall the sculptor who created this found object work helped me out a great deal in my very first Life Drawing and Anatomy class. He was a senior and freaked me out a bit because he was always invading my personal space. I remember he showed me a great method of constructing the breast over a skeletal drawing. You'd think because I have a fine set myself, I would have known how. But, I've found that men seem to know a lot more about breasts than women do. Anyway, his method of breast construction was quite a breakthrough for my anatomical perception and it helped me a great deal. Apparently, he thought it meant a whole lot more. Or I thought that he thought that it meant a whole lot more. Who knows. Either way, he was way too much into my anatomy for my comfort. Showing me how to construct boobs on a skeleton does not mean you can get anywhere near my frame. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhnoooooooooooooobuddy. Prude. Call me Prude. Luckily, there were so many other girls, he didn't waste too much time on me. We ended up just being tense acquaintances with a great respect for one anothers artistic ability.
One of my friends was very interested in this guy and dated him for a few weeks because he was a conceptual sculptor. Right there you can tell that he wouldn't interest me. Conceptual? Uhhhh. Huh? Concepts? About what? We ended up being in a class together in grad school and I never knew what the heck he was talking about. All I heard was "blahblahblahi'mdeepandyoucan'tunderstandanythingthati'm
My friend heard something else. At least for a few weeks she heard it. Yuck. He was a very good drawer, though. I'm all over the place with this story. Sorry.
So, despite my intitial gross-out due to his advances, we did participate in a lot of art-based shizz together. One day he asked me if I wanted to be the first person to see his new installation piece. It was created from found objects. Huh? What? Why would you find objects and install them? Aren't we supposed to be making objects? He said he made a new space from things he found in dumpsters. You made stuff from trash, I was thinking. I hate that sort of thing. It's very shee-shee-poo-poo and I'm so not about shee-shee-poo-poo. I don't even like rummage sales and now you want me to look at an environment made from it? Yeesh. But, I agreed to come and see it and be the guinea pig. There was something very endearing about how sheepishly he approached me regarding the viewing of his work. Sucker. That's what you are all thinking, right? I said that I wasn't deep, not that I was an idiot.
All sorts of flags went up for me. Why invite me (well, of course because I'm brilliant as we all know now), and why invite me in the middle of the night? I did teach a night class that ended at 10:30pm. Hmmmm. OK. It's just downstairs from my class. Make sure you have that awl handy, Sonji, just in case.
So, after my last student left, I packed up my stuff and walked downstairs and saw all this old furniture with cobwebs, lined up in a hallway and balanced against one another like dominoes beginning to fall. It was all painted white. That's the only way that I new it was the art. It was conceptual. Ugh. Almost 11pm and this guy wants me to think. He's got to be kidding. Blahblahblah, he said to me. Oh, wow, I said to him. Swirlyswooshswoosh, he waved his arms around, like we artist types do. Nodnodnod, I bobbed my head like I understood. Honestly, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I did become flooded with emotion by all that piled up furniture painted white and those mysterious, delicate cobwebs. The white allowed me to disassociate the objects from the context of reality (art talk...I still got it). The domino set-up created frozen implied movement (my favorite thing ever, if you haven't noticed by looking at my work). Then, I started weeping. Wow, I said. This is so emotionally enveloping, I said. Can you walk me to my car?
That was the first installation piece that I'd ever experienced and the first found object assemblage work I'd ever seen. I'll never forget it because it really did move me viscerally and I was so against being moved by anything that was called "conceptual". It wasn't that different from my abstractions. It was stuff that came with it's own implied memories, which is something that we can all relate to. It's like opening a drawer that hasn't been touched in years and finding another lifetime in there. A floodgate. You don't have to be a genius to get that.