In some of my previous posts I have shared reading responses - writings I did while pursuing my MFA. Reading plays a large role in the shaping of my art practice. It helps to solidify my ideas and identify my direction. In other words, I find it inspirational. I also often confess to getting my best ideas in the shower. (I don't know what it is about warm running water - but it's a conduit for my imagination.) Basically, I am always thinking and try to respond to my thoughts in a genuine way.
I was recently asked, “How do you stay fresh and come up with new ideas?” This person might as well have asked me, “Why do you make art?” I found the question difficult to answer. Continually asking “What if?” is just simply how my mind works. So one thing always leads to another. I guess I approach my art practice as I would a puzzle – constantly seeking a solution, yet recognizing that the achievement of the ultimate solution would mean the demise of my art practice. You can imagine that all this seeking can be somewhat frustrating because I never really experience a sense of completion.
So to be an artist is to be in the constant state of frustration of one pondering a puzzle with no hope for an answer. Because our work is really about the process of response – not the response itself. Heck, half the challenge is figuring out what the question is in the first place. The “why” should come before the “how” but sometimes we don’t even know “why” we do something. Often, we have to do it first and then figure it out. (To read more on this idea, take a look at Relying on Process.)
I believe we make art simply because we have to. It is our way of functioning in this world.