Thanks for coming back to installment II on the journey to exhibition! I will jump right in and continue where I left off, the start of new work and some considerations along the way.
Beginning the first piece for a new body of work is often the most difficult. And just to let you in on an important fact: This piece often doesn’t make it into the actual exhibition… Why? Maybe the colours don’t correspond, or the theme shifts too much from the first to the last completed piece in a body of work. Or, it is possible that the message conveyed may differ from the overall statement.
Just to refocus on the topic at hand, the question was: How long did it take me to complete my last body of work? Answer: From inception to completion I worked for nearly a year on “Polar Embrace”. My show dates were booked in early May of 2011 and the opening of the show was August 12th, 2012. Ideas were selected, rejected and finally realized just before Christmas 2012. During the winter I executed each miniature photo transfer, added machine embellishments, and mounted and framed 23 individual works. And let’s not forget: The operative word here is “miniature”.
The block of questions my former student sent included “How do you motivate yourself to do this everyday? Every other day? With all that you have going on in your life, how do you make time? Please give me some advice on how you do this?”
I need to caution the reader to stay realistic: I cannot compare my last exhibition with the one before, or even my very first solo exhibition. Each challenge is unique and there is a certain ebb and flow to my creative cycle. I ease into the creative process, spending sometimes no more than 30 minutes a day on new work. The rest of the day is taken up with office tasks, such as confirming teaching/speaking engagements, writing articles for magazines, my blog, updating the website, workshop handouts, my portfolio, creating kits for classes and corresponding with current and former students as well as preparing for new workshops. You get the picture.
I consider my studio practice a full time occupation. As in any job there are many responsibilities. My dream is to devote 100 % to the creation of art – but let’s stay realistic: Creating art 100 % of the time is a nice thought and completely utopian. Reality is harsher, I have great days where I am filled with creative energy that doesn’t seem to want to quit. These are the days I treasure and take full advantage of. I ignore distracting phone calls (if at all possible) and let my voice mail pick them up. I will work from morning until late into the evening, ignoring meal times and my exercise routine. These days are rare at best!
There are times that I am challenged to stay creatively motivated. Until I learned that these days must be embraced as “filling the well”, I would panic that my ideas had run out and my creative energy was exhausted. Today I know that “filling the well” is as important as the times that I am filled with abundant creative energy. It is important to build extra time into the overall plan when working toward the goal of creating a body of work for exhibition.
Let’s return to the original email from my student that provides us with a timeline. She and her friend have already secured the gallery space for November 2013. Looking at the calendar, this provides 13 full months to create the work. Here are the steps I suggest to move toward fulfilling her obligation to mount a successful exhibition without stress overshadowing the journey unnecessarily:
a) Investigate the exact size of the gallery by obtaining a plan from the gallery that provides height and linear footage of the space. It is also a good idea to visit the space, get a good feel for it – ideally when the gallery is between shows. An empty space will be like and empty slate!
b) Based on this information work out the number of pieces needed to hang and fill the gallery, keeping in mind a two foot space between individual art works.
c) Determine the approximate number of pieces each artist has to provide for the exhibition and divide the number by 12 months.
Why 12 months if you have 13 months till the exhibition? Give yourself extra time at the end for final alterations, solving hanging challenges or just to sit back and gain some distance. Work always looks better to me when I have allowed myself a block of time between completion and viewing / hanging in a gallery!
Sounds easy? It does and it can be! Let’s break here. Check out Sunday’s post where I will write about pitfalls and distractions that can throw us off track. Meanwhile feel free to weigh in with comments – share your own exhibition journey experiences. We are all learning from each other!