Art After: Artist Statement...the Long and Lovely Version

Added on by Denise Gasser.

My series, Art After, is really coming along. The following artist statement is probably a bit too long to keep, considering most people don't want to read more than a paragraph at most!! But this statement really describes my mixed emotions about art and motherhood, and my feelings about his project.

I feel like I am running in waist-high water.  My legs are trying frantically to thrust forward, but the weight of the water proves an indomitable force.  My mind is racing ahead. Though I try to slow my thoughts, and allow my mind to be present with my body, it continues to push farther and farther ahead, creating a gap impossible to bridge.  As an artist/mother, this is my daily battle. My mind is pulsing, begging to accomplish, to achieve, to act. It houses a never-ending flow of thoughts and ideas, everything from menial household tasks to grand artistic endeavors. But try as I might to complete even the simplest task, I am continually interrupted—literally stuck in place at times as I engage in the daily labors of motherhood.

This series is my attempt to harness the tension that exists between my vital roles as artist and mother. Bridging the gap between mental aspirations and physical reality, I embrace the interruptions that typically hinder the creative process. It is the ultimate act of accepting my “maternal experience as a fundamentally powerful source of inspiration”.[3]

The content for these small paintings is pulled from the scattered fragments of daily life with my children. I create each piece in one sitting, working without stopping until I am finished, or until I am interrupted.  Often my stopping point is the moment I cannot possibly continue painting through the interruptions. At that point I stop working, and cannot revisit that piece. On the back of each painting I carefully document the start time, the end time, and the nature of the interruption that forced me to stop. The duration of each painting ranges wildly, from under two minutes to over two hours­­—an apt reflection of my piecemeal reality.

The simple act of accepting my circumstances and working within those parameters has been both therapeutic and illuminating. These small artworks, in their varying levels of success and completion, come together as a rich tapestry to represent not only the struggle, but also the beauty and triumph I experience as I continue to make art after taking on motherhood. I am still running in water, but I am more in tune with the sensation of the water, and the ache of my muscles as they gain strength. I acknowledge and revere every inch I gain as I continue pressing forward.

This image shows the first 32 paintings in the series. It gives you a bit of an idea what it might be like to see hundreds of them all together on the wall. It really has been therapeutic to simply accept my current circumstances, because they won’t change…not for a long time anyway. But I am finding ways to appreciate and work through those circumstances. And it really is making me stronger.