I have been asking myself this question quite a bit for the past several weeks. I have a plan, a basic idea for the piece I am working on, and yet, around every curve, I'm filled with self-doubt. I don't get it.
I am trying to respect this process for what it is because, if past experiences with this ritual (if one can call it that...) are any indicator, it frequently results in a successful piece. It seems like I err on either end of the spectrum: some are so easy it is ridiculous, whilst others almost cause me physical pain. Anxiety. What is this all about?
I'm interested in this, particularly since we are doing online interviews of the artists who will be featured in the upcoming "Beneath the Surface" exhibition. Most, if not all, of these artists have stated that they rarely have this problem. Trust me: I am NEVER at a loss for things to work on. This is about getting stuck in the throes of a particular piece. I would like to hear from others who have faced down this demon. I do not think it is a rare occurrence but it isn't frequently discussed. It reminds me of early parenthood: no one wants to admit that there are moments when we ask ourselves, "My goodness, what have I gotten myself into?" This is, in no way, a reflection of whether or not we love what we are doing (in either case!) but simply a "moment". Well, I'm having "a moment". I know I'll persevere through it, but I'm suffering.
Here details of the cause of my "pain":
I know part of the problem I'm having is that it is not a happy subject. It is about what remains after a disaster, and in this case the piece is about the earthquake in Haiti. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this subject on a visual and emotional level. Visually, there is something interesting about the strata in the aftermath of something like an earthquake or tornado. I know that seems very unemotional and clinical, and it is. I'm trying to respond to the subject on both levels.
I have an old trauma-tape that replays in my head whenever I view images of a horrific disaster, as I was way-too-close to an F-5 tornado at a young age. It left quite an impression on me. The visual aftermath: the rubble, and mixed in with it are everyday bits of color and household items, usually in crazy places/angles that look wildly out-of-place in the midst of the chaos. The other piece of this puzzle is the ongoing trauma for those affected by the event. After the news cameras go home, people must continue to wade through what remains. We now call it post-traumatic stress, but back in 1966 there was no name for it. I saw people who were haunted for many years beyond the event. Those are the things I'm grappling with right now. I guess I'll go back to my work table and tackle it once more.