I am on the plane returning from a visit to New York City. The last six minutes in the city before getting in the car headed back to the airport were a panic. Panic is not a place I like to visit. But my smart alarm was smarter than me this morning, and while I set it for 4:30 am, it was inadvertently set for Thursday and Friday. Not Tuesday. Not today. My boyfriend commented to me before my trip that smart phones are smarter than we need them to be. This experience was one instance where the phone was smarter than I needed it to be, with at least one more feature than I needed, or use. But somehow the phone was set, smartly, and I almost missed my plane. Luckily, the sun is up at 5:26am and it was the sun and birds that woke me. Even in New York the power and pull of the living world brings me around to action.
Traveling brings out the question from most people: what are you here for? They are thinking, business or pleasure…and I respond that traveling is always both for me. I believe business, that thing we do to pay the bills should be enjoyable, but mostly it is both because the different experiences of the world challenge and transform how I understand the world and understand myself. And it is these understandings that combine to create my work. Both teaching and art. I move around, and the world comes apart and reassembles like one of those prismatic kaleidoscopes. New lessons are learned and old ones are reconfirmed. The world looks the same and it has also changed. A place like New York City is the same, but dramatically different. I first visited New York in 1976. a milestone celebration for the country and the city was all dressed up in red, white, and blue. For a child, I was impressed with certain child-like experiences: the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, Circle Line Ferry….in 1986 I moved to New York and began what is now a life-long relationship with a place, even after leaving it to move West in 1992. Visits became less frequent over the years, and I eventually recognized that I could no longer lay claim to feeling more like I belonged to New York. Instead I belonged to the West. I watch the city change and remain the same as a visitor now. I am learning the place like good friends we see rarely.
There are places I like to visit each time I go to New York, mostly to the museums to see certain artworks that captivate me – even after so many years of visiting them. But also to places that I like the feeling of, or the taste of, the smell of…and to learn new things. To learn a new sense of the place. I go for the thrill, I go to make sure that the place and all the experiences still thrill me. That the art I have fallen in love with over the years is still a thrill. I believe this is the reason to visit a place again and again. It is the reason we retain our friends and our loves. Not because they are convenient or easy but because after all the years, they still thrill us, challenge us, transform the world for us, sometimes stop us in our tracks, make the world spin or stop, inspire and encourage us, push us forward, remind us of what we have committed to in our lives.
I go to re-mix these experiences with the West, with my life I have chosen and committed to. I come home to my life, my love, the activities of my work, to weave these experiences and sensations into how I teach, how I think about making, how I make and how I live and love.