In early 2020, I participated in an art show at Webster University called “Back to Our Roots”. I dedicated my entry for the show to my late friend Mark Reed who passed away in 2018. At the time I was in this show, I started an artist statement to go along with my entry and I put it on one of my web sites. Like a lot of my projects, it grew bigger and more elaborate than I planned at first, and is still in progress. I ended up including grief about several other things in the process which is one of the reasons the series got bigger and bigger. It’s expanded almost to the size of a mini book, kind of like a mini memoir using my art journal and artwork as a jumping off point to write about my life so far.
My original intention in starting these pages which I’ll link to below was to help me process my grief over Mark and explain what my art journals were all about. At the “Back To Our Roots” opening I included little pieces of paper with the QR code to my web site so that show visitors could access the artist statement in progress from smartphones. The show was forced to close early, first from vandalism and then from COVID-19, so not very many people were able to see the original show.
Since I began the project, I have experienced more grief of an even more serious magnitude. It was caused by the type of trauma that when I hear about similar things happening to others I ask myself “how do people live through that”? I’m doing a lot better, thanks to therapy and a lot of writing and art making. While I’m getting better, there are people I know getting one piece of bad news after another. I just heard this morning from a friend whose family, like mine, has recently been impacted by suicide. For all those out there who hear bad news and wonder “how do people live through this”, or are wondering how they are going to cope with something in their own life, maybe my artist’s statement ongoing project will help.
If you would like to read what I’ve written so far, here is an index to all the existing “chapters” in progress. Just click the “back” and “next” graphical buttons to navigate forward or backward.
B. John Ortbals design class and the projects Mark and I both did
C. The hand that wounds
E. Shape pictures and clay objects with Mark
F. The gratitude and lack of fear of creating shown by a child
G. The courage to do a Mail Art project again after over 20 years
H. Coloring with adults and kids in a house full of art and art books, including prints by possibly my biggest visual art influence
I. Parts from an old project that I have revisited more than once
J. The ‘zines at Webster University in the art building
K. Finally getting on to a design team
L. Gallery in a box and the Book Arts shows
M. Permission from God to make art again and building a new life
N. Collage made with Mark’s artwork that helped give me the idea for this show
O. Mark coming out and changing his art to LGBTQ themes
P. Letting back in playfulness and conceptual art – #12daysoftomsbeard
Q. Mark’s memorial page