Sunday, December 17, 2006

end of semester artist's statement

this is what i learned in school this semester.

Mark Phelan
Artist’s Statement
Fall 2006, Relief Printing

This semester started out as a lesson in discipline for me. I wanted to work my way through a lengthy period with good plans and drawings and end up with good results on the other side. However, my emotions got the better of me, and I ended up spending most of the semester working in a different medium, and with no real plan, shooting from the hip, and drawing what I felt inside me. I do not have regret concerning the latter part of this statement, because I feel that I connected to a part of me that has been previously hidden. But I did discover that I am not as naturally disciplined as I once thought. It took real work for me to turn this semester around and complete the required assignments. I found myself almost resentful of the fact that I had to get them done.
It’s interesting when a person finds something new about himself. Whether good or bad, if he can then find a way to use it as a tool, it can be a very powerful thing. I found that when I work from raw emotion, I have a very difficult time dealing with the world around me. I have a tough time at home. I have a tough time at work. I even have a tough time at school, where I want to be most, if the work to be done there is not exactly what I want to be working on at the time. The monotypes that I worked on simultaneously with the assigned work got me in touch with something that I didn’t know previously existed. It is a hard thing to deal with. This untamed emotion welling up from down there somewhere. I don’t even know why I feel it. I do know that it needs to make its way out on paper as soon as I can make it happen. . I also found out that when it comes down to it, I can get that assigned work done, and do it fairly well. But it does feel like work.
Beyond that, I did learn a few things about technique in relief printing. I learned that when I pay close attention to composition, the print comes out well. I learned that when I make a piece that I want to make it comes out well. And I learned that when I take a few deep breaths, and start carving that linoleum with my knife, I am quieted. The process is cathartic, and the rest I find in it is revealed in the prints I make.

But I do wonder how often I will be put in the position of having to make something that I am not connected to in some way. I wonder if I will need to leash that emotion and save it somewhere while other work gets done. I wonder if it fair to ask an artist to do this.

This semester I learned how to feel through my work, and I learned how to wonder.

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