Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The silent cloth


I am in a state that I have learned will pass, but I recognize it by it's silent cloth over my senses.

As I did barn chores, the banter I carry on with the animals was not present - I worked in silence. It was replaced with background chatter in my head about the ways to bring in money, the ways to keep going and make a living and not get sucked down by taxes, mortgages, equity line payments, heating bills, insurance payments, child support, old cars about to die, fencing that hasn't been bought yet, how to market lavender in an industry I am stumbling through, how to create art that is art and not a commodity from inception. This chatter has been present for me since I began as a freelance artist 10 years ago. I've survived by allowing the chatter to come, make a plan and keep doing it. If one thing doesn't bring money, flow to the next. Keep going. Never be through. Don't sit down. Never settle. Keep selling, selling, selling. It's exhausting. I'm exhausted. If I were a millionaire, would I be an artist? I have absolutely not one doubt I would be. I have always done art, even as a child, as a way, a desire to communicate something - usually a communication with myself of course. But would I have an online store, full of greeting cards and any other way I could think to sell my art simply to pay bills and survive? This I don't know. Maybe the selling of a piece is part of a final circle in the making of the art, an approval thing, that I need. Or enjoy. Of course it is a gift to make art that some people really respond too - to find out there are people who have watched your work for 10 years and get joy or an emotive journey of their own through it. That is one of my jobs here in this realm. It's my work. I take it seriously in that way. But today I don't feel light, I'm exhausted by it lately - the running of the machine. "The medium I've grown to like best is leisure and doing nothing. I'm in turmoil continuously with that side of my nature that requires leaving a record of my desire for order and for communication. The urge to communicate in a tangible medium is all tied up with urges of personality, ego, ambition, economy - Why do I send paintings off to a gallery except for those reasons? Otherwise I'd be free to let my life be a trackless medium." [Morris Graves as interviewed by Katherine Kuh]

I had a desire some weeks ago, inspired by old books on sun prints of plants, to make sunprints per se, by scanning all the various dead plants and weeds I find around the farm. This was the first one, of a dead/dying camelia branch. It pleased me, and still does. For two weeks or so it has sat unpublished from the internet, not seen by anyone. And for two weks I gave it the grace to just be itself, without thinking of way to try to sell it. But now, as I look at it, I can hear the chatter again, "This would be lovely series of prints - who can I show..." On and on, on and on.

And when I'm not getting sales, even teeny ones, I get down. I feel a bit invalid.
So that is how the silent cloth can shroud me.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Katherine, I can SOOOO relate to this post. Thank you for opening up to all of us.

Carla Sonheim

Anonymous said...

P.S. I love the flower print! I love all of your art! -C

farmgirl said...

I can't think of anything to say that doesn't sound trite or hokey. So I'm just going to say Thank You.

ESB said...

Sorry to hear of the anxious chatter in your head...all reasonable worries.... but as you've said, they'll eventually pass or at least not feel so heavy.....

I wish I had more money so I could support your work, which is intense and beautiful and moving....one day....

keri smith said...

i echo all of your feelings and sentiments.

most times I feel i am part of a big machine that I want no part of. one option is to move to another culture somewhere, live off the land, have no overhead. but i have seen glimpses of this life too and it is challenging in other ways.

sometimes it just seems like everything comes down to money. i find being an owner of property one is always fighting to keep it, maintenence, bills, weather, etc. it's a battle against time. in the last two years i have started to really question ownership, what is it really? what do i truly need?

no real answers yet, just questions.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~