My First Website and Conquering Familiarity

If we ignore all the other failed attempts, this marks the beginning of my first personalized website. I’ve had a few dances with other blogs—curious moments that burned out rather quickly—but the underlying motive was never genuine.

Technology and I have a bad history, like siblings who couldn’t get along until they were older. I fried my fair share of computers, cameras, printers, and phones. I vicariously grew into my adolescence via the Internet and rise of social media. I absorbed the email and the instant messaging, then tried to assimilate the ‘xanga,’ and the ‘facebook,’ and the ‘flicker,’ the ‘tweets,’ ‘pins,’ ‘tumbles,’ and ‘push notifications’ that go “beepbeep!” in the night… But I just couldn’t give enough to be bothered with it.

I like to talk to people face to face. I like to look at things in real time/real space and enjoy the use of my other senses. I like to ask questions. I thought going to art school was ideal for my experiential needs and distaste of technology, but most students I found were either behind screens or exhausted from looking at screens when they should have been sleeping or educating their brains.

I did not Photoshop. I did not edit digital images. I bought CDs to then load onto the computer. I did not post anecdotes or status updates. I read books with real paper and non-adjustable contrast settings. But there was this push in art school; “You need to look up this really cool obscure artist in Paraguay that I stumbled upon [because the visuals that you’ve been creating for about for 2 weeks is the same thing he’s been doing for 10 years]. Or, “Networking with digital support is the only way to move forward so put your portfolio online,” as if we have to involve constant updates and connections to build technologically mediated relationships with strangers so that they’ll care about our ideas that we have so little time to experience between screens.

I spent 3 years trying to navigate the path to being a professional artist and then began to retrace my steps back to being human. The turning point came at John Walker’s Artist Lecture at the TRY ME space in RVA. He reminded us croke college painters that “paint is just colored mud,” and we need to be ambitious with our art, not our career as an artist. With his stories about living life while making art- it gave me the permission to admit I didn’t care about marketing, PR, collective portfolio, or a focused body of ideas. It takes a lot for an art student to admit they have little interest in “being” artist.

When I stopped thinking about recognition, I started experiencing again and connecting to myself again. I went to VCU because I liked to make things. I graduated from VCU making things. There is little theory behind my work beyond the fact that I want to experience as much as possible and need to manipulate things to think clearly. I no longer consider myself an artist because I’m not exactly making art regularly and I feel the connotations associated with declaring, “I’m an artist!” blind my internal identity. I am now an inventor of visuals, thoughts, and experiences.

In the last few months, I’ve breached clarity and I’m ready to teach full-time. I have had a rise of in the number of self-realizations recently; one essentially demanding I stop fighting the 21st century. I might remember the days of digital freedom, but my students never will. This will be their world and they will need help participating in the online world and comprehending the digital connections we make.

Partially, I built this website to reference back to in conversation, research, and digital collecting. Mostly, it was to gain the experience to share with students and other educators interested in building a website but have limited digital knowledge like myself. I’m not sure what it will morph into but I’m pretty excited to escape the my familiar anti-technology sentiments.

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