Z: What you just said is something that often gets lost. What do I like to do? What do I get joy out of making? There is always so much pressure to deliver in an MFA program where everybody works towards a final show and everyone thinks in terms of milestones. What gets lost is the initial wonderment that made you an artist in the first place. The question of what do I like to make and not what gives me an A or what this professor likes to see or that professor likes to hear. Being mindful that you are allowed to actually think about what brings you joy and make things that you enjoy making. That’s the place from which it all starts, and all comes back to. You will succeed in a program no matter the intensity if you focus on what you like to make.
And this isn’t a trivial question, not even in terms of how Josephine and I interact, because a lot of these conversations, even though they seem free form and very spontaneous and driven by the moment, are actually very rigorous and all undergirded by critical theories. Very specific theories that we always keep coming back to and we are mindful that yes, this is still an MFA program, and we are having to hang our free form conversations against certain frameworks. We are always mindful that these frameworks exist, and we also don’t forget that these frameworks are not corsets, they are not constraints. They are supposed to help us ask deeper and deeper questions. A lot of people think of the framework first and ask how does my work fit into the framework? I think it should be the other way around. I’m the artist that I am and what frameworks are there that support what I am doing?
We are always mindful that there are specific thinkers in this space that we both resonated with, and that as much as we have these free form conversations, there is always something that undergirds that. It’s important to focus on what made you a maker in the first place and to see yourself as part of a lineage of critical thought and creative inspiration. That’s always been in the back of our minds. As much as we like to be spontaneous, there is some framing of that spontaneity that goes on as well. There are specific people that we constantly quote.