2/6/2018 – Mapping an Abstract Course with Sadie Trichler
Artist: Sadie Trichler
ST – Museli, yogurt, and mango with Michigan honey, cappuccino
SRS – Breakfast sandwich with sausage, jam, coffee (black)
“I write, but I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to arts write, I guess,” said Sadie Trichler, when I asked if she’d done any arts writing since a class I’d subbed at College for Creative Studies, in which she’d expressed interest in pursuing arts writing. “But then again, that doesn’t mean anything.”
Oh man, am I tired of academia. Listen, guys, maybe it is hard for me to see myself – impossible, actually – but honestly, I’m not that smart (people are like LOL WE KNOW). Being knowledgeable is not the half of it. Arts writing is just showing up, then taking the time to translate things you think and feel into words on paper or screen. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you can’t take the time to actually execute some thoughts on paper, no one will read your writing.
Writing of any kind is about sacrificing some of your immediacy in situations to make room for reflection. I get it, that interferes with your ability to dance like no one’s watching and fly by the seat of your pants, and forget things as soon as they happen, and generally live an unexamined life that relies on other people to do the work of reflection on your behalf – but that has nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with discipline. Okay? People who make arts writing more complicated than that are simply bringing ego and investment in postgraduate hierarchy to bear on a situation that requires little more than care and attention, and perhaps half an hour a day in a room of one’s own.
None of that is about Sadie, of course. I’m just letting you know that this is not the first time I’ve heard excuses about needing some kind of qualifications to write about art, and to me it’s like thinking you need formal training to write a poem. Do some reading, give it a try. It doesn’t really have to be harder than that. IT’S ART THERE ARE NO RIGHT ANSWERS. By ceding the field to people who seem “knowledgeable,” you continue to ensure that there are no accessible voices. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Be the fucking change, people.
I think what’s true about Sadie is that she’s still finding her voice and her values. Which is entirely appropriate, because she’s in the midst of her undergraduate education, and already has struck upon the most important question any artist can ask herself: what am I doing here? Sadie talks, sheepishly, about hesitancy to engage with gallery systems, a desire to install art along hiking trails. Yes! Go for it! From what I can tell, the desire to go take a hike and think about life is the most unifying Millennial trait. You might find your audience out there. Forget about art scene, let’s go art scenic! Sadie likes to set ceramic tableware on the beach. It doesn’t get more art scenic than that. I think hiking trail art is really no less remote than art gallery art.
A lot of the CCS students I’ve been breakfasting with have questions for me – it’s always a bit dislocating to realize I’m somehow in the position of mentoring (oh Goddess help us all). Sadie had questions about process, questions about negative feedback (yes, I get some), and particularly seemed interested in my idea about not needing to make distinctions between “art” activities and “life” activities.
“That really resonated with me, because I also agree with that – but I also wonder how you balance that with being a studio artist, and engaging with the fine art world. This is a broad generalization, but I don’t think the art world responds to that kind of thing – like cooking – as easily. Engaging in an art community is a lot of work.”
All true! Sadie is on the money (see, she can totally be an arts writer!) – I think it comes down to whether you see being an artist as being a job, or being an artist as a thing that you are. I fall in the “I’m an artist” camp – even when I’m trapped in a soulless office job, for example. That’s why soulless office jobs are painful for me. So making art and engaging with the scene, and to some extent galleries and showing, doesn’t feel as much like work because it’s a part of who I am naturally. It’s kind of like being frog, where my natural environment is the water – so even if I’m capable of living on land, it’s not my fave, and if I do it too long, I’ll dry out and die. I think every creative person has to find the modalities that are the most natural to you, and then structure your life around those systems as your priorities.
Haha, just that, huh? Good news, Sadie, you’ve got all the time in the world to figure this stuff out, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Just because something has not become a comfortable fit, doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. You’re just looking for the right ecosystem to support your life.