You Might Misinterpret This
This week I conjured up superhuman strength from deep inside where the sun don’t shine. Between the opening of the show and the High Line Open Studios Tour, I met hundreds of lovely people, shook more hands in 4 days than in the sum of my life, and heard countless interpretations of my work. I can honestly say that I loved it all. If you haven’t noticed by now, I have intense affection for individuals. Though, I can be a little awkward, I do enjoy interacting with people. I like to watch the arch of expression. I am inspired by the flick of an eye, the twitch of a finger, a confident nose, the parting of soft lips. Unless you’re John Wayne Gacy, there’s a good chance there’s something I deeply love about you.
A good friend of mine stepped in to help out with the business side of the exhibit, which allows me to be at ease when discussing my work. A woman who visited the studio as part of the High Line Tour observed that it was strange that my friend would speak to visitors on my behalf. She implied that I was shy, and being the chameleon I am, I said “maybe a little.” This encounter has played through my head for days. It has occurred to me that I no longer understand the significance of that word. Shy. What does shy mean? Does it mean I’m reserved? Or that I don’t like interacting with people? I think “shy” is one of those words people use to simplify character. At that moment, I reached in and looked for the quickest exit, a way to end this uncomfortable conversation. “Maybe a little” seemed like a proper response. It led to a chuckle, and a quick farewell.
People have asked about my process and inspiration. I think this situation is a good example of what moves me. I am drawn to the conscious and automatic choices individuals make. People categorize. It’s what they do. How they choose to categorize is what is interesting. If you call someone an artist, a brute, a genius, a loser, a shy person, a slut… it exposes something about your perception of the world. It tells others how you categorize.
In many ways, my pursuit in life is to debunk category as often as possible, to look at the world through fresh eyes. What does it mean to be shy, smart, gay, straight, talented, fat, successful? Language is consistently evolving. When you consider the fragility of translation and interpretation, you realize just how difficult it is to communicate an idea effectively. What is a good piece of art? What makes a good friend? I think true freedom lies in the ability to shift perception. I, personally, prefer to explore the why rather than the what. In my experience of exchanging ideas, words always fall short. Communication is not what you say, but what is perceived. There are always factors that are out of your control because you cannot transfer your experiences, vocabulary, neurosis, intelligence. So, communication relies heavily on your ability to understand who you are speaking with.
The delicate balance within and between people fascinates me. Each day we make countless decisions, from what we wear, to how many sugars we put in our coffee. We do maintain certain rituals, but there are days when we need more sugar. There are days we feel sexy, adventurous, tired, nervous. Your moods and experiences affect your choices. No person can be described in a single word. You are never just a mother, a son, an artist, a salesperson, a flirt.
Am I shy? The answer to that is entirely up to you.