One of my favorite artists is also one of my most favorite writers. Now, many many people know that I have a love for Janet Evanovich but she’s not a a visual artist… Yet she is quite artistic with her Stephanie Plum Mystery novels… On book 19 myself… Ahem ahem. But I digress.
Glenn Ligon is actually the artist/writer to which I was referring. A year ago the Whitney Museum of American Art published selected writings and interviews to coincide with Ligon’s retrospective, AMERICA. Edited by Scott Rothkopf, senior editor at Artforum, Yourself in the World is a beautiful book. When I was a child, my mother often would tell her friends and our other family members “C, is going to be a writer when she grows up”. She said it so matter-of-fact, without question, hesitance or wonder and I (being a child) kept writing. I didn’t think about being a writer until my freshman year of college and that’s when “My mama used to say…” came flooding back. Sometimes people need reassurance that they are on the right track. You never know when, how, where or in what form reassurance comes, but it always comes. And don’t be fooled, when you’re wrong, there is reassurance for that too. But AGAIN, I digress. Reading Yourself in the World, the first time, reassured me that I was on the right track as an artist and as a writer. Ligon writes, ” …realizing that my writings and interviews, like my art practice, were a record of who I was at a particular cultural moment, and that the insights, contradictions and incomplete thoughts expressed in them were an important part of my story”. Writing is something you do for yourself as well as others. And the same can be said about art. The catch with writing and art, is that you need to do it because you love it. And if you make money doing what you love, you’re a lucky devil!
Ligon reviews works by David Hammons ( he actually says Hammons’ artwork is “freaky deaky” LOVE IT!), Wardell Milan II, David McKenize, Kelly Walker, Felix Gonzalez-Torrez, Rodney McMillan and various others. He writes about travels to New Orleans, his navigation through childhood and moving throughout the burrows of New York. All in which have added to him as an artist and as a writer. All in all, I found Yourself in the World so moving because it reminds me alot about myself and the artist I will become.
How do you keep track of your personal growth, your contradictions, insights or incomplete thought? Is it in your work? Your writings? Your Hairstyles? Your clothes? What are your breadcrumbs?
My breadcrumbs are the work. My writings, my art, and sometimes my memories. And just in case I get lost ( its inevitable. We all get lost in our own confusion) I have breadcrumbs to look over and think to myself, “My Mama always said…”