The Studio of Eric Valosin

Monday, June 24, 2013

Post Graduate Stress Disorder

Transitioning out of graduate school is a very strange thing.

There's a sort of re-naturalization process that has to take place, and a good amount of post traumatic stress that needs to be overcome, but mainly I find that the balance of work and family life becomes ever more precarious. Going from essentially 2 or 3 big things that take up 120% of my time to 3,000 smaller things that take up 97% of my time, takes some getting used to. And every time I sit down an enjoy that 3% of unaccounted for time, I kind of feel like I'm cheating death...

But yesterday I received a very affirming email from a member of our church who took her family to go see the thesis show in Chelsea. Here's an excerpt of her email, which gave me that warm fuzzy feeling and reminded me why I do this all in the first place:
We were so intrigued by your piece and now I am reading your thesis monograph, which is -- wow -- slow going for me, but I am so very intrigued. You share your story, your journey, from your particular perspective ... and your experiences connecting with Hegel and Heidigger, and your conversation with Caputo (wow - that is so remarkable -- this is all so new to me) are "unhinging" me -- if I may say so! [shameless monograph plug]
 ... Actually, we found all of [the art] socially profound, with messages from the artists who all are alerting us to what is before us. We felt sad, scared, horrified (you know which ones did that to us!) and yet lifted up by the awareness and creativity of each artist. ... Kudos to you all and to your faculty, and for helping us peel back the scales in our eyes, unhinging us from that which hinders us, and for shedding light on the paths ahead. You are one very remarkable group!
And this coming from a woman who happens to be the wife of a retired pastor, no less. How many sermons she must have heard, how many theological conversations she must have had; I'm humbled and honored to hear her speak of being "unhinged" by my work, quoting from John D. Caputo. If I can offer people this sort of experience with my art - unhinging them to think deeply, feel deeply, and see afresh their relationship to their God and their world - then my work is not in vain, regardless of how many pieces I sell, or how many collections I get into.

But today the thesis show at Magnan Metz came down, and I've been feeling struck by the reality of life after the MFA. Time to take off the training brushes and put on my big artist pants, I suppose.

I believe I'm officially now homeless, artistically speaking, so that's a start I guess. I've moved out of my MSU studio, and have filled every nook of my house with art supplies as I await my next studio space, which will hopefully soon come from one of the 3,000 things I'm filling my time with:

I'm now serving as the Coordinator of Fine Art Initiatives for a non-profit called Gravity, catalyzing community revitalization through the arts. We're working in Dunellen, NJ right now, and looking to acquire a warehouse space in the near future. Until then however, my sunroom will be uninhabitable and smell faintly of old Gesso.

Next week I'll be showing a few drawings at an event Gravity is sponsoring, and we'll be gearing up for a big street fair in September, plus some potential involvement with Newark's Open Doors festival, and all kinds of other great initiatives that I'll have to go into in another post, so keep your eyes peeled...

I'll also be teaching down in Asbury Park at The Collective Art Tank. Well, I would have been teaching there this Saturday, in fact, however enrollment was low and the class had to be cancelled. Come on people, sign up and learn some art!

[Shameless Plug - Saturdays in July]

And of course, a substantial part of my 97% is my family (which is good, because if the MFA were a 3 year program I'm fairly certain I would no longer have a family). Yesterday was my son's 1st birthday, so naturally we let him get extremely messy with a cupcake, and even messier with some paints! Here's a glimpse of his first ever painting!

I'm proud to say he even used a brush (in addition to his hands and eventually feet). Coming by his artistic inclinations honestly, he painted for a bit before turning the brush handle-down and scraping the paint away in a fury of subtractive mark making!

And next it's my turn. With the studio move, a bunch of logistical and PR type distractions, and events associated with the 3 shows I've been in (two of which are still up at the Morris Arts Council and the Arts Guild NJ), I really feel the hankering to get back into the studio. I've got to order more vellum and get back into the ritual - there are more circle drawings calling my name, and I've got a hankering for another complex QR mandala drawing, not to mention a couple projection projects up my sleeve... I guess all the networking and writing and self-promotion is a good and necessary interruption, but an artist can only go so long without making stuff before he starts to feel a bit depressed. I'll have to take another gander at that email, flip on some Radiohead and break out the old folding studio table, and once again life will be good!

...Now if only I could get to it in that sunroom...

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