The ECU Symposium was this weekend, and while I didn't attend the whole thing, I managed to see a few presentations and do A LOT of socializing. It was great to see so many people, some I haven't see since this time last year, or even longer. I even managed to meet a few new faces.
Of course, everyone wants to know what everyone else is up too, and maybe brag about their own stuff just a tiny bit. I heard so many people talking about upcoming shows they're in the midst of preparing for, be it local, national, gallery exhibition or trade show. Everyone seems like they're making towards some sort of goal. After nearly a year of making towards the final goal of Sieraad, it seems strange to not have any studio commitments. I have no shows, no goals, no demands on my studio time. I feel a bit adrift. (And maybe just a little bit behind my peers.)
I've heard a couple more seasoned makers voice that they're tired of making things for specific commitments, missing the freedom to just "play" in the studio. This makes me think of one of Austin Kleon's points in Steal Like an Artist. Kleon suggests that early career artists enjoy their anonymity for as long as they can, because they will never experience that level of creative freedom again. Once people start paying you for your work, and begin having certain expectations of you, you have to comply.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and processing my whole entire Sieraad experience. And while I'm disappointed I didn't get to see much of the city, and I'm disappointed I didn't recoup more of my expenses, the thing that disappoints me the most is the work I made. And I knew this. The whole year. But I didn't pay attention to it. I jumped straight into production without finishing the research/reflection part of the process. The work I made was fine, it was pretty, it had some things that are definitely working, but it didn't have a voice. Or a point. I didn't get out of it what I need to get out of my work. Instead of making work to feed me spiritually, I made work in hopes of feeding my bank account. At the end of the day, this work did neither.
But here I am, at the start of a new year, with no commitments and relative anonymity, looking at complete freedom in the studio. Freedom to play. Freedom to make whatever the hell I want without consequences. Freedom to search instead of strive. And while I've convinced my self not to dump the whole lot of the Sieraad work back into the river from whence it came, I think I will be stepping away from it for awhile. I ordered some silver (see above) and am going to start working on setting some year+ old enamels. I also plan on working semi-in tandem with my Metals II students, completing similar projects as they are.
After that, who knows. Stay tuned.