Weird. I know.
Over the past couple of years I’ve come to the slow conclusion that I’m not an interdisciplinary artist. It’s not like most people care whether I’m an interdisciplinary artist, expect me to be an interdisciplinary artist, or know what an interdisciplinary artist might be. But in the context of my life, it’s a thing.
To be honest, I’m not even sure that I even believe in interdisciplinary arts. Like so many things, it feels like a lot of language in service to securing a place in the academy. I don’t mean disrespect to those who claim interdisciplinary arts practice, but after fifteen years of considering it, I’ve yet to hear the compelling argument. This doesn’t mean that I’ve entirely given up on interdisciplinarity (in its broader sense), but you need (at least) two to tango and, to my mind, the arts remain one (or maybe three) disciplines. And the space between arts disciplines is incredibly thin. So one needs to stretch one’s disciplinary wings if one wishes to stay in the interdisciplinary game. And that, at the end of the day, might be the point. It’s not about being an interdisciplinary artist, but rather about being an artist who engages in interdisciplinary practice.
But staying in the interdisciplinary discourse is not my goal. In fact, my goal might be its opposite: shedding a bunch of theory that’s been weighing me down; stepping out of discourses that inhibit me from making things; and embracing more direct and enduring forms. It might simply be embracing those forms that speak to me.
Tomorrow I will begin a degree in creative writing. I’ve written elsewhere the ways that my visual arts education impeded my development as a writer. I think I’ve overcome that gap but, nevertheless, I think I can benefit from mentoring and structure. I definitely need to learn a few things about editing and publication. And I know that intensive work will push me into terrain I might otherwise avoid. So it feels like a good thing to pursue. Of course, I might simply be reloading my bag with theory. Time will tell.
Perhaps counter-intuitively I expect this degree to bring me back to the painting studio. While I might be setting aside the idea of interdisciplinary arts, I know that I have a multidisciplinary inclination. I make meaning through images and through language, through the verbal and the hand-wrought. In both pursuits, I’m interested in poetics and mythologies. I expect that engaging one form will prime the other. At least, that’s how these things usually unfold in my head.
Here’s to a new year. And to whatever kinds of resolution we can muster.
[Edit, 3 January 2014: The
strikethrough paragraph notes some ideas with which I’m struggling; to which I’m not yet fully committed. And yet, they feel weighty enough not to dismiss.]