In Flux: Transitioning from tenure-track teaching to full time artist…

It’s official, we’ve found a new home and will be transitioning in fits and starts until the movers are scheduled in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’m a little in limbo – trapped between two lives and feeling a little out-of-sorts. I’m in flux.

In truth, I feel a bit like I’m watching myself on a TV series than really being in a moment – any moment. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve experienced before… no, that’s not entirely true.

When we relocated to Atlanta five years ago for my (very loved) tenure-track teaching job there was also a similar period of limbo. But, unlike then, during this transition I’m not really anticipating anything specific… no, that’s not entirely true either…

I am beginning new things, yes, but the shape of those things is intangible and therefore hard to grasp and hold on to (like I’d prefer).

What will I be doing next? I guess I don’t truly know – not in any specifics – and this scares the hell out of me but also makes me cautiously excited, too. I will primarily be focusing on becoming a full-time artist and I guess that I really don’t know what this will mean for me because there’s no one model for how this should work or what a working artist career looks like.

While that subjectivity is liberating in that it allows me to define what my personal practice looks like in a unique and personal way, it makes it difficult to know exactly what to do next – or if there’s a right or wrong way to go about doing this. I suppose I’ll figure it out as I go but this attitude is inherently not one I’m that familiar with.

Moving forward requires letting go. I’m not great at letting go.

I honestly have a lot of feelings of self-doubt in the decision to relinquish my tenure-track position at a good school in a great department with awesome colleagues and wonderful students to embrace the “unknown”. I feel that I have no choice, really. I have a very rare once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do this and I know I may never get it again… I’d be crazy not to fling myself into the beautiful unknown before I regret not doing so for the rest of my life, right?

This new and exciting departure is not without loss; I’m mourning some of the things I’ve loved about this previous part of my life.

(Fortunately) I am continuing to teach post relocation but I’ll be doing so in a new capacity – part time and fully online. I’ll be working for the same good school and great department with my awesome colleagues and wonderful students so – in part – this makes me feel a little guilty experiencing loss during this transition. What is it that I’m really losing, after-all… I haven’t really pinned this down yet. I understand that for me, processing this feeling of loss is part of moving on – it just bothers me a little that I feel the way I do when I logically perceive my situation as being one which facilitates more gratitude and optimism than anything else.

While I haven’t really written a lot about my own personal experiences as an artist outside of project-centered posts on this blog since grad school, I’ve decided that I’ll start recording what this new exploration looks like and how I’m managing (or not managing) the shift in focus from full-time teaching to full-time artist.

I’m not sure if I should create a separate blog for this or not but as it’s part of my artist’s process I think for now I’ll keep everything together unless I get feedback urging me otherwise.

At least I have this new lily pad to hop to – a 1942 craftsman style home in the historic district of our new city within walking-distance of historic downtown, the Tennessee river, the library, and a couple of really beautiful and large parks. I think it’s going to be a wonderful place the begin this next chapter.




My new studio will be broken up into two spaces (so fortunate!). The house was owned by an artist who passed away and gave the home to her son – as you can tell she loved the color purple (like, REALLY loved). The garage has been transformed into a good wet-studio and includes a huge walk-in closet with industrial shelving and a good sink (adjacent to place for washer/dryer).

Garage Studio

I will also be taking over the woman’s bedroom as it’s got the best light of the bedrooms… it is, however, purple… I will be painting over this before our stuff even makes the journey across state lines.

New Studio Space

As my current studio space fits into a room about 1/4 the size of all of this space I’m pretty excited. I do love the studio space that I have right now (below) but I will enjoy this new layout a lot. I’ll be sure to share photos of the transformation as it takes place.

Current Studio Space

For now, that’s how I’ll get started I guess – I’ll just create the space I see myself needing. As I learned in the “Field of Dreams” – if I build it, “they” will come… (hopefully what appears will be some idea of what the heck to do next…).


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