Searching for a Sustainable Practice
Kenny Jensen Blog Post #2 ~ April 8, 2021
Blogging As Revelation:
This second post was originally intended to be a straightforward showcase of my studio and an overview of the projects I’m currently pursuing, but my recent life circumstances have pushed me to first contemplate and communicate something more elemental that will hopefully provide context for where I have been and where I am now trying to go in my practice. It has been a helpful and revelatory exercise, but it became too long;), so I will share it in smaller bites over the coming weeks. (more on my circumstances and my studio next post…)
Drowning in Fecundity:
The process of trying to create my art sometimes feels like I’m wandering through a dense, impenetrable forest without a clear path or direction, weighed down by an overlarge backpack filled with way more than I could ever possibly need or use.
A substantial part of my practice up to this point has been focused on extensive fieldwork – exploration, observation, documentation, collection. When stalking within the forest, I become a hybrid of part kid at play imagining himself as a Victorian naturalist, and part addict desperately driven by an insatiable curiosity to attain the next fix of surprise and wonder. Each new discovery is followed by a desire to go deeper along with an increased longing to share EVERYTHING I see and experience with EVERYONE. This compulsion to collect and share is mirrored in my excessive consumption of the cultural landscape.
You know the old saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees” used to describe someone who gets bogged down by the details and fails to grasp the big picture, the context, the whole. My gift or perhaps curse is that I see and feel it all. From the forest as one solid form – one organism, to the individual trees, up to the separate branches in the overstory all painted by undiscovered continents of ecstatic lichen, down to the forest floor littered by the overwhelming fecundity of dormant seeds, and just beneath the surface to the miles upon miles of fungal networks within the understory, that mysteriously make all life in the forest possible, pulsing directly underfoot. I am also aware of my senses and learned responses (the “lenses”) with which my body and mind apprehend and comprehend these surroundings.
OK, I know, you get the point. Holons within holons. As biologist Merlin Sheldrake explains in “Entangled Life” , “Life is nested biomes all the way down”.
When it comes to actually making artwork, there are just too many possibilities, too much wonderful source material, too many ideas, too much earnestness, expectations are too high, and there is too little time to do anything (especially when I had to work full time). This can all become too much to manage and is often crippling. My pack is too heavy. It is bursting at the seams.
As problematic and unwieldy as this approach can be, it has also been exciting, fun, and deeply rewarding. However, after much reflection, especially after the many difficulties of the last year, I have lightened my load and am now taking steps to reevaluate and reorient my direction toward a practice that is more viable and sustainable.