Despite having another week to access the ornithology departments collection of study skins, I find that I have already mentally moved on to newer subject matter. Although I am still working with bird imagery, the time of the tragic dead bird is behind me – at least for now.
I spent several hours with the collection this morning, photographing and drawing some of the specimens that didn’t quite work their way cohesively into my thesis exhibition. Somewhere between the Sparrow and Owl drawers I had a realization that I was no longer “seeing” the birds as I once did. It took me by surprise, but then, upon deeper introspection I think I’ve known this to be true for several weeks now. I have simply been unwilling to admit it to myself because – as with everything else in my life at the moment – it’s another ending I have to deal with.
When I first began working with the study skins I was fascinated and drawn to every single nuance of the specimens; I spent hours laboriously documenting their feathers and beaks and feet and never once felt anything but excitement and momentum. Today, I felt neither. Instead I was overcome with sadness and propelled into a quite, moody, and unmotivated head space that I’ve yet to shake even now, hours later.
I could blame it on the fumes, on anxieties about a trip I’m taking this coming week, or on the fact that I wasn’t feeling that well when I woke up this morning and went to work on an empty stomach, and yes, all of these are probably logical reasons for not being present with the collection like I typically am – but I know better.
I suppose that perhaps this phase of my artwork must come to an end in order to me to begin again as an artist who is no longer a student first. This transition is, for me, more extensive than graduating – a shift has occurred in multiple aspects of my life. As is fairly common with artists, my work reflects my life and therefore is transitioning too.
I’m excited about the beginnings that inevitably spring forth from each ending. I bought myself a new sketchbook yesterday to start working on my non-academic-driven artwork, specifically work for my upcoming solo show in August at a local gallery. My previous book was filled with thoughts and images that were leaden with the past, my new one – blank pages that are light despite the many possibilities they represent.
Today’s photos and sad little drawings were by far not the best representation of my skills or ability because I just lacked the heart for it. Nonetheless, I find they seem to echo the melancholy of their making and thus, stand as an adequate farewell to a great many things.