2 paragraphs on my creative relationship with the Shaker Community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine. show»»»
I don’t consider myself to be religious in any definite or traditional way, but I appreciate and respect religion and religious freedom, and all the culture that surrounds it. I grew up in a christian tradition, but my family was not especially observant. Even so, I think that some of those ideas have influenced my sensibilities as a person, and as an artist. Despite whatever personal hang-ups I might have regarding organized religion- mainly it’s ramifications in our political dialogues- some of my closest friends are the Shaker community in New Gloucester, Maine, the only active Shaker community remaining in the world. The Shakers are a monastic community that began in the mid 1700’s in England, but flourished in America. They’re best known for their communal and agrarian way of life, and also their unique architecture and design, which is very minimal, elegant, and functional. I appreciate all those things, and their friendship very much. There’s something very charming about monastic life in general, and even though it isn’t what I desire for my own life, I believe that there is a real affinity between the vocation of a Shaker, and that of an artist. Themes like daily life, how communities function and are united, our individual journeys and desire for understanding, and how customs and traditions survive change by being elastic. All of this is expressed in Shakerism.
I can’t say that I am a ‘believer’, and will readily acknowledge that I trust science implicitly. Still, I believe that mystery constitutes a large portion of our daily lives, and that religion can offer insights into reconciling that mystery if we maintain an open mind. I really like referring to religion (and art) as a vocation, as this implies the need for a constant engagement with the thing you are practicing. While many aspects of art and religion are heuristic pursuits, they will always happen within a broader cultural and societal context. My friends, the Shakers, have successfully navigated this- for over 200 years! I hope to be as mindful in my lifetime.
This is an introductory essay I wrote as part of an application. The prompt was "in 800 words or less, please introduce yourself". I like how it turned out, and I think it's the best I can do as far as sharing who I am, and my intentions as an artist (in 800 words or less :) show»»»
This is a difficult task for me, trying to write without sounding like an exercise in self-esteem, or some other kind of personal profile. This is my second application to ____, and I feel that I better understand the purpose of this introductory essay now. I’ve done my best to be honest here.
I want to mention that I don't hold my opinions very tightly, and that I often have two opposing opinions at the same time. If I have biases, they have nothing to do with individuals or groups, superficial differences, or the places people come from. If I say that I am moderate, or that I don't claim any political affiliation at all, it's vague, but I want to tell you that I don't arrive at opinions easily. I'm quick to pick up on the complexity of an issue, and I'm always willing to give the bennefit of doubt. I try to be mindful of generalizations.
I have a lot of love and respect for my friends, and I think I’m pretty good at showing respect to everyone I meet, no matter the context. Someone once told me that this is a sign of my desire for the same respect, but I don’t think that’s entirely true, because I always try to keep things light, and I don’t see myself as being any more worthy of respect than anyone else. I want to be polite, and approach others in good faith. Also, I’m eager to show respect because I’m genuinely interested in what other people do. I love painting, and I think I can articulate where the satisfaction rests in that work, but I’m fascinated, talking with a finance attorney about their job, or someone in division management at a large investment bank; airline pilots, architects, construction workers, doctors, farmers, missionaries, sports fans, scientists. My sister is a geologist, and hearing about her work is especially exciting. Talking with artists feels different though, as the conversations I have about art often seem a lot more serious.
I think I’m a serious person when it comes to what I do, and the things that I feel are important. I try my best to live up to my standards, but I’m not always successful. I know that challenges and issues bubble up for everyone, and I try to be sensitive to what others might be dealing with. I’ve had responsibility in the jobs I’ve held, and the respect of my coworkers and employers. I think responsibility is an attribute of being a professional. I try to hold myself accountable as a painter. I wonder how others might do that, and in what context.
I don’t know what I’ve set out to do, but make images. The nuances of someone’s work, and their dedication to it is only a fraction of a life, but that fraction can be large, and can have inflection. I think that’s the case with me, at least at this point in my life. I have a range of interests and concerns which are important to me, but I want the progression of my work to trend toward something more specific, and I’ve had a hard time letting go of all that possibility. I feel conflicted in so many ways; risk, responsibility, disparate interests, optimism, the overwhelming harshness we all witness, my age (30), my history, ours. It’s a lot to decipher, and I’m sure I’ll never feel like I succeeded in doing so. If that’s a goal though, or a direction to work toward, for what it’s worth, I can’t imagine a path that would better suit me, my abilities, and my shortcomings. Without any pretension, I honestly feel I can positively contribute and participate in ____. With my sincere thanks for the consideration of my application, and all the best,