I've started a series of drawings that are providing therapy for me after losing my teaching job recently. The one you see next to these words is my "Job Loss" drawing which has a lot of symbolism in it relating to my experience thus far in terms of yet again becoming unemployed in a world not kind to unemployed artists. I lost my job due to low enrollment where I taught and this is the third time in the last eight years that I've been laid off by an employer because there wasn't enough work to make my position worth it. Its brought my level of trust in employers to zero. I taught because I wanted to build an exciting art program for my students and I think from what I saw they enjoyed their time in my classes for the last three years which is good at least. I miss my students like crazy but I hope somehow I helped ignite creativity in their hearts and perhaps my time with them will be remembered for a bit longer.
So I've been drawing to be ready for an exhibit I have in August in Dallas which will be a selection of my current ink drawings. I hope I can sell a few then as I will need to survive on those sales more than ever! I do hopefully also have another exhibition in the autumn for my sculptures which is also exciting so I'm preparing for that as well. Working in studio is mixed with a heavy dose of anxiety over money and job related issues as I still have yet to find any employment. I think that my efforts to continue teaching are a bad idea as I'm not drawing enough interest to use private teaching as a means to survive anymore. I think after my June workshops I'll pack the teaching in. All the shops I've applied to tell me I'm over-qualified which is perplexing as I can't imagine that my teaching counts as "over-qualified". It wasn't that long ago that I worked in a bookstore so I'm going to keep trying and hopefully someone will hire me and then I'll stop worrying about how I'm going to pay my bills!
I have other creative practices in the works and at some point something good has to happen so I keep trying. I'm still working on my Six Million Pod sculpture though I'm taking a few weeks rest due to a shaky wrist (this happens when I cause repetitive strain injury by repeatedly squeezing a hot glue gun for hours and hours and days and days). After my rest I'll get right back to work and if all goes well even though I'm now unemployed and really poor perhaps there will be more donated toothpicks and I'll get one million more toothpicks done by the new year. That is the hope.
I sculpt on Six Million Pod on a daily basis and have done for the last two almost three years because I believe that if I stop even for one day that I won't be able to finish by my proposed September 2013 deadline in which I hope to catalog all the people who donated to it so I can list their names and donations with my sculpture when it goes to the Dallas Holocaust Museum who have kindly agreed to let me donate it to them when its finished. So I sculpt everyday for as little as an hour to as much as eighteen hours depending on my teaching schedule and holidays and so forth. I will finish on time but now that I've decided to try to fund the remaining 3 million toothpicks and so few people have come forth to help fund it I feel the tendrils of doubt entering my mind and the fear that I may not finish on time has crept into my mind. I have 3 donations thus far, 2 from people I know and one from a person I would like to know because to donate to my project means they must believe in what I'm doing is for a good cause and if they believe in me and my cause then I feel so good inside that I want to sculpt constantly! But as I've mentioned it looks like no one else is keen to put forth finances through my USA Project to help support this sculpture so its entered my mind that if this funding idea does indeed fail and those few donations are refunded to the lovely people who believed in me then all I shall do is resort to twigs and sticks from the natural world around me. I don't know why I never thought of this before as nature doesn't charge me a fee to collect fallen sticks. So I give my USA Project a month more and if it looks as though I'm not going to get the support to buy the remaining toothpicks then its into the woods I go and still I will be able to complete my project by my chosen deadline. It will look very different though with twigs and sticks which may or may not be a good thing. I think though of those Jews who escaped into woodland areas during WW2 and how some survived living in the woods and others didn't. So then perhaps this new path makes sense for those who died among the roots of the trees.
Between work and studio time I am slowly getting myself organized enough to enter competitions, residencies and other art opportunities in an effort to surge forward with my ambitions for my art career foremost in my mind but it seems very slow going. September was full of a good deal of work that didn't seem to result in anything I was aiming for but now things are happening and there is now some relief. It has also fueled my focus to put more effort in my studio work. Teaching is important and I know it but before I was a teacher I was an artist and I have to keep reminding myself to focus on that so I don't forget to keep creating even when teaching seems overwhelming. I've been working on ink drawings and have been exploring repetitive patterns in the simple black and white that seems to be so exciting to me. It has also helped me get a bit further on my never ending holocaust memorial sculpture, Six Million Pod which consumes large portions of my studio time and now that its so very large I can hardly tell what a few hours worth of work looks like on its massive surface. I cleaned my studio this evening and this will be more inviting to get to work now that I've relocated two other very large sculptures into my bedroom. It was getting very difficult to cross the room with them sitting or leaning in the chairs. Now it is late and I must sleep in order to teach tomorrow but at least I've updated this blog with something interesting and to show my latest ink drawing which I am in love with right now.
I had this clever idea a while ago in which I thought it would be fun to try to share various images of some of my sculptures with the owners of the sounds that inspired me during the making of them. In this day and age I don't think anyone genuinely just shares much especially if its art related unless of course they want something from the act of the sharing. As I can't think of what I'd want from sharing an image of one of my sculptures to the source of my inspirations I thought it was simply a nice idea to make contact with those that have influenced me and helped me move forward. Sort of like giving back to the Universe I suppose. So I've been embarking on the task of tracking down contact information for various sources of my inspirations and managed to go in massive circles in which I have accomplished nothing except several times accidentally signing up for online things that I didn't want. Its a great shame I can't send Mozart a letter as I bet he'd respond but its a real pain in the neck trying to find simple physical contact information for actors (deep voices for Draco) or composers of TV soundtracks (Merlin for Euclidean Pod) and a few others that I've simply completely given up attempting to track down. I've had people contact me many times because of being an influence or an inspiration to their life by what I do and I love to read their messages to me as its like a window into someones life and the idea that I've had even a small impact on them gives me a lovely feeling and keeps me sculpting! I'm certain the composers of TV shows couldn't care less that a toothpick sculptor with Synesthesia is being impacted by their music and I suppose it was a nice thought to share but at this rate I think I'd be more successful sending a letter to aliens from outer space! Years ago when I made "Laughter Pod" I sent the comedians who created that laughter letters and many responded and I even got some autographed letters which was tremendously exciting so I won't give up hope on contacting composers no matter how elusive they seem to be. Euclidean Pod is too beautiful to not share what they've helped me create even if explaining what I experience makes me sound like a bit of a nutter to them! I think Mozart would have been curious at least which is an interesting thought as his "Marriage of Figaro" is playing a big part in Euclidean Pod lately.