going "down the rabbit hole" has become a common metaphor in popular culture, symbolizing everything from exploring a new world to delving into something unknown. ... In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the rabbit hole is the place where it all begins.* [*taken from our friend google…]
Shortly after graduating from art school I was told the worst thing that can happen to your art practice is that your work starts selling, the commodification of art is a trap that sucks you in and dissolves all your ambition for being curious, exploring new ideas, takes away all critical thinking and it makes for weak work that becomes absorbed into a banal, boring, predictable, redundant world that escaping from is pretty much impossible. Making art that is adored by the masses is easy, but to travel down deep into a rabbit hole, now that takes courage…How does that saying go? … If you are making something others disapprove of, you are probably on to something.
A bit over dramatic? Maybe. But hey, don’t shoot the messenger…I’m just repeating a warning that I was given some 27 plus years ago. And I must admit, to this day, I keep those words very close to me, they have formed a foundation to which I have built an art practice on. My art work lives in a big messy Black Widow’s web that only I can navigate, there is no map or logical path to take, each studio visit is a mystery. The goal has always been to observe, think critically, do good, solid, work and to never settle for average. Of course, when it comes to my work, this is open for debate. Everything is meant to be challenged, analyzed, dissected, reconfigured and scrutinize over and over again, being relentless is good.
The ability to experiment, with subject and/or materials, means to go down rabbit holes, alone, it is what makes one an artist. Anyone can make ‘art’ but to be an artist is something entirely different. It involves taking chances, absorbing the world around you and reflecting it back to others (society).
When everything is stripped away, I am an oil painter who draws. When I walk into my studio the smell of linseed oil makes my heart sing… the intoxicating perfume wraps its big arms around me and pulls me into the room where we spend days and nights chatting, sometimes arguing, about the fundamentals of art making and how we can go about deciphering and responding to all that surrounds us. Using all the various art materials that are available to me at any one time helps put the pieces together. Am I an artist? That is not for me to decide.
I have no answers or advice for those trying to carve out a living in the arts, and maybe that is a good thing, it means the road is wide open, enjoy the ride and see where it takes you.