• How do I balance an open-ended exploration with the demands of creating a body of work and writing a thesis?  What does a thesis really constitute?

• What do I need to sustain my practice?  Economically, psychologically, philosophically?  What does that mean in terms of my relationship to the art world and the art market?

• Who is my audience and how do I redefine traditional notions of the dichotomy between the art world and the non-art public?

• Does art need to have a social/political value?  How do I make a contribution?  How do I know if any of this is worthwhile to anyone other than me?

• How important is it to be innovative?  Are innovations primarily formal in nature?

• What does it mean to be an artist of one’s time?  Do I need to situate my work in a historical context?

• What doess it mean to critically defend my work?  How much do I need to say?  To write?  To explain?  Do I need to have a developed theoretical back-story to what I do?  If so – where do I get one???

• Art that is conceptual driven and/or politically relevant seems to take valor over other modes of work at CCA and in the current art world.  Also the model for how one works as an artist seems to be research – language based.  Are other models equally valid?

• How do I develop (find) the resources that will help me feel connected to the opportunities in the art world?

• How do I know what to ask for myself and my work?


“Marco Polo imagined answering (or Kublai Khan imagined his answer) that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there; and he retraced the stages of his journeys, and he come to know the port from which he had set sail, and the familiar places of his youth, and the surroundings of home and a little square in Venice where he gamboled as a child.”
Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities

Genealogical investigations usually refer to the tracing of family histories – lines of descent. In this case let’s use the word family to suggest the visual, intellectual, social/political and personal sources and influences that have shaped your practice (in the fullest sense of the word). Instead of using the linear metaphor of a family tree your challenge is to create a visual system – a map, diagram, schemata, model etc that more accurately tracks and embodies the patterns as well as the discontinuities, adjacencies, simultaneity’s of your work. Instead of a linear history think of it as temporal polyphony.

“To follow with a detailed description of classical memory systems, complete with charts, diagrams, symbolic drawings. Places and images as catalysts for remembering other places and images, things, events, the buried artifacts of one’s own life. Mnemotechnics.”
Paul Auster, from The Invention of Solitude

Some things to consider:
What are the patterns that run through your work and life – repetition, replication, continuity, variation (and invention?). How do you describe the essential elements of your practice? Where do they come from (stepping stones, touchstones) and what have they bumped up against that has either changed their course or helped clarify their direction. What collusions and collisions have forced your hand – to grasp or to let go? What traditions do you claim? Who are the ghosts that hover around your work and crowd into your studio?

The ultimate form of this exercise will be a 10 –15 presentation in your studio
in which you – decode – elaborate – recount the narratives embodied in your maps.