|Day #32 Groggy|
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
AM I MY FEELINGS?
A few years ago I initiated a daily artistic test to answer the existential question, “Who Am I?”– specifically, ** “Am I my thoughts and feelings?” 500 years ago, the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes thought so. He famously declared, “Cogito ergo sum”…”I think therefore I am”. He ignored the squishier category of feelings. As I age, and look at my mortality, I’ve been using art as a language of self-discovery. My process is often diaristic and quotidian. I think this harkens back to my Catholic upbringing. Repetitive prayers like the rosary, saying novenas (prayers for 9 days, 9 months or some sequence of 9’s), or walking the 14 Stations of the Cross were predicated on the idea that if one held a question or prayer in mind, an answer might be forthcoming after sequential repetition. I am not religious anymore in this manner, but the residual practice often emerges as an artistic framework.
“How Am I Feeling Today?” is a series of self-portraits of my feelings in a variety of media and paper stocks. They are based on 89 days of morning photos I shot of my face in 2009 staring into my bathroom mirror. Each day I asked myself to name my feeling of the moment. (bored, calm, groggy, nervous etc.)
I wrote the feeling in lipstick on my forehead and photographed my face in the mirror. Last year I began to paint and draw each one. I’ve completed about 60 so far. There are 89 photos, the number of years my Mother lived, a-not-so-obvious layer of meaning and self -identity for me.
Fifty-five of these portraits are now on view at The Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA as part of the show, Material Witness. If you are in the Atlanta area this Saturday, Nov.16, there will be a closing reception from 3-6pm. Three artists and myself will be speaking briefly at 4:15 about our work. I hope you can join us. Food and drink will be served. The address is 141 College Avenue, but the gallery is actually on McDonough St just off College.
I’m posting the remaining portraits as I complete them on Facebook–usually one a week. “Moody” is the current one.
**ANSWER: I quickly discovered that I’m not my feelings, or my thoughts. They change rapidly throughout the day, and from moment to moment. I think Descartes was using the idea of thinking as a way to describe consciousness as the seat of self. I tend to agree with him…but that’s a subject for another artistic endeavor.