The other day I met my Emerging Artist mentor, Kirk Ke Wang. It’s a little late coming since I was traveling in Israel for two weeks in early June, and he was traveling out west for the last few weeks as well. We met at my studio and talked for three hours.
It was really refreshing talking to another artist like that. I work full time in a poker room and my studio is in a ceramic gallery, so as of late I don’t get to have much time talking to contemporary artists about what they do, culture, and really just hanging out and talking about ideas without much judgment or expectation. (FYI – the people in the ceramic gallery are really kind people, they’re just usually more interested in glaze chemistry and fairs than ideas and discourse). Kirk told me all about being an artist in NYC in the late-80’s and early 90’s, a period I kinda revere and at the same time am happy I was never a part of. It was a blast! He was also reassuring about my decision to move from Boston to Tampa Bay to have more space and time to make work. As much as cities like NYC and Chicago are more exciting than Tampa Bay cities, I’m wearing of how much art I’d actually make there versus just work to pay ridiculous rent, and party in my free time. Kirk agreed, and said that’s basically what he did in the early 90’s haha.
We talked a little about my work, but just enough for the two of us which was perfect. I didn’t feel forced to present or perform the whole time, he didn’t feel forced to ask about only more work. Sometimes studio visits can be awkward because you end up really enjoying talking about other things, but feel obligated to pull every conversation back to the work you’re making. To some extent that makes sense – most people have someone to visit their studio to talk about their work, not chat about movies and NYC. But since I’m never really looking for anything specific out of a studio visit, my hope is that I get a lot more out of it. If we really get into talking about arts criticism or crime movies or parties, why cauterize that and talk about my work? It felt so natural and fluid and that’s a huge thanks to him. It probably makes him a great teacher as well.
He gave me some helpful thoughts on presentation, which is always the hardest part about my work: should it have an object with it or not? Should it be high or low? Is it better photographed and then displayed than it is displayed purely as a sculpture? It was the fastest 3 hours I’ve had in a while. He’s big into movies so we’ve already talked about having film screenings at his studio (he said he’d provide the beer) and I really can’t wait.