on my thesis...

Added on by lauren frances evans.

When I start to think about how to structure the paper, I feel like maybe all this info I’m trying to compile and synthesize is better suited for a book. Or a series of essays. Like, I could elaborate on these ideas for years and years (and I hope to do so). So how do I package it all for this context? Am I trying to do too much? It’s a big can of worms I’m opening with all this content, so I feel like I’m going to need to explain myself quite thoroughly. The work makes sense without all the deep research, at least on a surface level, but I really want to try to integrate all the philosophical influences/associations as well - perhaps less so as a defense of particular works in my thesis show, but more so as a defense of making, in general. Why make? Why do I make? It’s something deeply personal and psychological, but it’s also deeply human and spiritual - ontological, at its core. I’ve been thinking lately that I  need to start with that. Ontology. Being. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to simply BE? To be human implies a quest for knowledge - we are homo SAPIENS after all. But to know what? In our depths there is a question mark - our souls yearn to know. In our depths there is a void of longing. Making is revelatory - it is a means to knowledge. Self-knowledge as well as knowledge of the world around us. My work is particularly so because it is an odd mix of compulsion and reflection. I allow myself, in the studio, to be propelled by impulse. I choose materials based on how they make me feel - in the most basic and visceral way - as well as form. The associations come later upon reflection. Artists don’t bestow upon a work its content. The content is what is found, inherent in the work, what is revealed (to artist and/or viewer) once it is made. The materials are simply the medium through which this content is carried. Artistic media has a magical way to convey that which words cannot express. My work is expressionistic in this manner. The work I make doesn’t start in my mind - its impetus is of a more guttural nature. My actions in the studio are simply an extension of urges and impulses that have driven me since childhood. Boogers and scabs and hairballs, etc. have always intrigued me in this way words cannot express. An odd obsession with orifices of all kinds has haunted me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a picker, squeezer, squirter, scratcher, peeler, you name it. Naturally, these instincts have followed me into the studio and their relation to some aspect of my inner person, my inner unconscious. So then there’s this aspect of consciousness - a becoming conscious of the unconscious drives or subconscious desires - which takes us back to the earlier point about knowledge. It is in this becoming conscious where the significance lies - this revealed “moreness” is what keeps me coming back for more. Reflection on these urges and inclinations reveals so much more. A thing made reflects its maker - this is inevitable. As a Christian, I believe it when scripture says that we are made in the image of God. Thus I too believe that the artist makes his/her work in his/her own image. This may not be by means of physical representation (though often this happens too) but it means that everything I make reflects some aspect of my being. If this is so, how could I leave an explanation of my work at sheer impulse? Impulses must originate somewhere, right? Even if I can’t uncover their roots, I can’t help but dig a little and hope to find some source of it all. So there’s this psychological component - or perhaps I should say, psychoanalytical. I can dissect my decisions and thought patterns in hopes of finding some explanation for it all, but with psychological analysis, I always seem to hit a wall. I prefer to believe that there are forces more powerful than the mind, thus psychology’s attempts to explain everything away in this manner feels rather narrow. Take Freud, for example - the father of psychoanalysis. Upon viewing my work, it is quite natural to assign Freudian readings, to see all the holes as sexual holes or to attribute impulses to sexual desires. I’m not opposed to a reading of this kind, but this reading alone is much too narrow. What is there to discover if Freud has all the answers? He and his followers provide interesting insights, but they shouldn’t have the last word. I for one do not agree that everything boils down to sex. Desire, perhaps, but not simply sex. Ever since I began making work, viewers have cited the sexual nature of my creations, from “womb-like” installations to humorous collages of fingers poking into holes. Of course I am eager to acknowledge these associations, but from the start, I have refused to assign such a narrow reading of the work. I have stressed, and will continue to stress, what I believe to be a PREsexual fascination with holes (holes of the body as well as holes in general). The metaphorical associations are so much richer. Like Sartre so adamantly asserts, “the cult of the hole is anterior to that of the anus… it is initially pre-sexual: in other words, that it contains sexuality in the undifferentiated state that extends beyond it.” It is in this vein of reasoning that I find the critical concept that all things physical point to the metaphysical. Man functions as a microcosm, continually shimmering of the beyond. Man is matter, but he is unlike all matter in that he has a desire to know.