What I love about Bourgeois, besides her work is her habit of working in different media at different times in her life. Growing up in art school in the 1970s was all about finding one thing to do and stick to it. This artist is my mirror to breaking that rule and she did it so well.
I also love how prolific she was. Something I aspire to and hope to make my own habit.
Everyone needs protection from their demons. Those demons can be real, like an abuser or they can be perceived, like a lack of confidence. They are not all easy to identify. We humans find ways to hide from these demons. It can be a closet in the attic or it can be a crowd at the bar. I like to cover up with fabric, paper, armored surfaces, and more. I create the small spaces that can hold secrets, secrets/demons that I am hiding from or secrets that I have created to cover up the real demon.
Part of the development from child to young adult is to find or create a space of one’s own, a preparation for the inevitable move away from parents to independence. Within that space, we develop our hidden spaces as well that keep safe many of our secrets.
Each piece of paper that I use in my wall installations represents a safe space for my secrets. Each piece has been touched by me. I rip the paper, soak it in an ink bath, ring it out and hang it up to dry. Once dry, I take down each piece, one at a time and lovingly press out the wrinkles by hand and stack them 50 -100 high. I keep count of them like this — 375/2325 — the first number is how many I have made and the second number is how many I have left to make for that particular installation.
Trying to figure out the best use of my Saturday is stressful, to say the least. With all of the events that revolve around friends and institutions that I want to support—exhibitions, lectures, receptions—it is difficult to find free time in the studio. I want to support everyone who supports me, a long list, but how do I fit it all in?
And so each Saturday, I approach the day with a bit of resentment and a bit of resignation. And I wonder if the issue is not mine. Do I even want to go the studio on Saturday or do I want to take the day off? Don’t I need at least one day when I can stop everything—designing, learning, experimenting, teaching, sculpting, planning, applying, writing, invoicing—when do I make time for myself to sleep late, go to brunch, catch some shows and lectures, see a movie, cook dinner, catch up with my children.
I think back to days before marriage and children. Before I had in-laws to consider and before I added the needs of children into the mix. I remember living on 23rd Street in NYC where my soon-to-be husband and I would buy some fruit, fry some eggs and listen to music as we ate a late lazy Saturday morning breakfast. It has been a long time since I felt that slow in the morning, without any deadlines reminding me to hurry up, time’s a wasting.
How do I get back to that time of slow mornings, filling the rest of the week with fulfilling time in the studio, not going to a job anymore so I will have time in the studio? Time to renew my commitment to studio time. Time to block out all mornings for exercise and my work and not give in to the whims and demands of earning an income. Time to take back Saturday for recovering from the long intense week.