retrospect, plans and definitions

Hey All!

So, I said I was going to chat about where I got my names from, what has been accomplished and goals, and what i’m muddling around with now (Is this still the boring part or am I unsure of what to write? How do you know when you write something if it is relevant?).

Firstly, the name and screen-name for here. I chose “The Nirvana for the Asylum Patient” based on a weird post I wrote on my chalkboard in the studio. Nirvana, as I have known it, is a place and state of contentment and enlightenment. The self-actualized as Maslow could best describe it. Meanwhile the, outdated, reference to an asylum patient is for me, and anyone who does what seems illogical for their goal. Sometimes, I don’t know entirely what I am doing. And that is as it should be. Going into art may not be a lucrative endeavor or an entirely healthy career (being as I play with chemicals and sometimes toxic materials…and some materials are just not wise to breath in), but I cannot see anywhere else I would be. Every once in a while, when I’m working in a studio that has no heat and the breakers blow easily, when I’m hungry as hell but too into what I am doing to pry myself away to get food, it will hit me; I am exactly where I need to be. Sleep deprived, hungry, shaking from my caffeine addiction and muddling away at my next piece; it is simply Nirvana.

LovingBedlam, my screen name, is simply stating that I love where I’m at, where I’m going and simply loving the insanity behind achieving my nirvana. Bedlam was an actual mental health facility back in Elizabethan times. You would have learned that reference in reading Shakespeare. Then is was known as an asylum for the insane. What was so unique and ahead-of-times for Bedlam, was that they did not just throw patients into a cell and tossed them food, only letting them out to scare people into practicing the accepted religion. But rather, the patients were on a schedule and were given a quiet, and well regimented day. And that’s all anyone needs. You may be crazy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Most of all, I simply love what I’m doing.

To really illustrate how crazy people think I am, at the end of high school, when I said I was going to pursue Fine Arts, my mother and father supported me with no question. However, not everyone saw why or what could come of an art degree. After all, what value does art, rather a picture, have in this society (that we will discuss many times after this) ? What job was I going to get with a degree in something so subjective and seemingly frivolous? Then, I believed I was going to go for my Bachelor of Education and eventually become the crazy high school art teacher. By the middle of third year of university, I changed my mind to a Master’s degree. I would be burnt out from teaching eventually, and most dreadful of fates for me, I would never produce art for me again. It was scary to change the game plan, but it’s what I think I need to do. I definitely don’t think I’m wrong.

After all, I go where my instincts tell me. Thus far, my instincts, my gut feeling, has never been wrong. I’m lucky for that. I go with the wind and it’s always where I need to be. I am young though.. but we shall see. I think I’m also lucky that I posses something of a fearlessness. Worst-case scenario is rarely that bad. And I haven’t had to fall back on Plan B. I’m also too stubborn to not get where I want to be, and that can help. It’s annoying, but it helps.

So… what have I accomplished in 2011? Well besides being humbled by life events and learning from that. At the end of my 3rd year I completed a miniseries of paintings. Even after second year I was wondering if I would continue to pursue figurative work and in the miniseries, that wonder was confirmed. My thesis for that series was based off an analylism from art history that year. Art history that year was a special topic, Feminist theory in Visual Culture, taught by Dr. Kristy Holmes. In the course we reviewed the idea of the “male gaze” and voyeurism in art. To simplify (or bastardize), paintings that look into a private moment are voyeuristic. Pretty simple, until you realize that most art was made from and for the male viewing. This is most likely because men 1) were allowed to attend art school  and 2) held the money to purchase art. Therefore to sell your art, you would need to appeal to the demographic. The demographic, in the epicenter of the art world for most of western art history, was the heterosexual, Caucasian male. This “male gaze” may have perpetuated the idea of the “venus”, or perfect woman. Of course the idea of “perfect” changes from generation to generation. My goal was to eliminate voyeurism within painting. Having hopes of continuing the theory or extending it in the future, I chose to start at eliminating voyeurism in portraiture first. I painted several friends, nude, looking directly at the viewer. In the eye contact alone, followed by the subject inviting or acknowledging the viewer, I had eliminated the voyeurism. Another part to the thesis was that voyeurism is what made some of the greatest paintings was the voyeurism. I wanted to substitute that with my love for multimedia with the possibility I could add another element for the viewer. A fear that may have taken over the work, was that the viewer would see the subject, be repulsed by the eye contact (as unbroken eye contact is intimidating at times) as well as the viewer does not now the subject and would not keep interest in the painting, and the other elements would keep the attention of the audience longer.


Please remember,photos and artworks are copyright, Elizabeth Hoskin 2011

I had completed a drawing series based on the figures of my nightmares, sadly my drawings did not survive the moves. However two of my paintings were chosen at the Annual Lakehead Visual Art Department Juried Exhibition. Ben and Kayla were displayed as a diptych, after following the advice of a professor, and were my pride and joy. Fun fact; “Kayla” is how most of the portraits start, but again, I was advised to put them in contrast with one another. Lesson learned: even the best in the game give imperfect advice every once in a while.

I also accomplished switching jobs, to working at the local art supply shop and as a cosmetician at a drugstore. My first love of almost two years ended, and that was humbling as well. I finally learned what people mean when they say “love makes you do stupid things”. No regrets, he was my first and he gets a special place in my heart. I’m in the process of forgiving, I’m still bitter from time to time but the motions are passing and I don’t think it will be much longer before I let it all go. I, however, do not forget. I think I have the diet for my digestive problems down pat. To help people along, I have gastroesophegeal reflux disease (like having heartburn on steroids and a constant ulcer), non-alcolic fatty liver (as does 70% of Canadians [being overweight does that]) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There a few other things, but together it’s a challenge. Not treating what I have can lead to cancer, and treating what I have with medications also could lead to cancer. Diet is the best bet. More on that later… maybe when I blog a meal or two.

For 2012, I will be graduating. And at the end of my final year there will be a few shows I will and I hope to participate in. First is the Annual Juried Exhibition that the University holds. The panel, as I understand it, is made up of Professors and members of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Also, the graduating class is responsible for hold their own collective exhibition between the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. The course most graduating students take is called “Major Studio” and so that is the name of the exhibition as well. Lastly we assist with the Annual Urban Infill exhibition held by the Definitely Superior Artist Run Gallery. I have some other rough ideas but nothing to come to light as of yet. My main focus now is the graduation and moving back home.

I have a few series on the go now. First of all, and I hope to catch up in documenting these, is a drawing series based on my recent digestive diagnosis and prognosis. I have tried to broaden it to answer the question “what happens when you deny a person food?”. The focus thus far is the futility in attempting to participate in a daily ritual that you cannot fully partake or is not accessible for you. Essentially, you cannot “wine and dine” or “schmooze” like a general population. This is particularly noticeable with someone having Celiac’s disease. Denying someone the ability to be in the day-to-day ritual and social event, leaves you as an “other”. And an “other” is always at the bottom of the barrel. I’ve had hit some roadblocks, but I am sure I know where I am going.

My painting series, which is changing into a drawing series, is a bunch of family portraits. One of the many hazards with Major Studio is succumbing to pressure and getting lost. What is so exciting and dangerous about this course and this year, is that the professors leave you alone. You have a bi-weekly critique and few group critiques, and so much opinion can be too much. I fell into a very classic trap that is I became too absorbed with the theory and in turn, my production was lost. Our last critique was quite conclusive; If I want to paint portraits, just paint. Theory needs to be secondary. I’m quite convinced my drawing series about lack of food has been more successful thus far.We shall see.

I have been pleasantly surprised at one of my professors however. Sam is known to be a wee bit flaky and too ethereal to understand. He’s an amazing artist and in reading his work, I am stunned at the clarity and depth. And in person, he is someone you can really draw upon for good thought. Sometimes students loose that when he is a professor. I have had him as a teacher for three classes now. In second year drawing and last year’s painting class. Last year, in the first semester I had a surgery that I ought to have taken the year off for. This surgery is what determined my illnesses and brought a lot of years of frustration to a close. For half a year, I could not lift heavy things, I could not truly push or exhaust myself. And in doing art, you cannot forfeit either. I don’t know how, and it was not easy, but I finished all my assignments and even pushed out the miniseries in half the time. And I know I’m boasting, but I also ended the year ahead of the game. This also means I never have an excuse anymore. Sam, the deceiving, perceptive, whimsical person he is, noticed that I work by just doing it. I call it my “witching hour”. It’s most appropriate since it is often midnight (like this post) that I begin and do no stop. I can go into my studio at nine in the morning and leave at six, and have x amount of work done. But with witching hour, I can get that amount done from midnight to 4 or 7 in the morning (depending the project) and that work from 9-6 will be done, and better yet, all resolved. I suppose it’s me naturally being a nighthawk and I work when the world is silent, I am not due anywhere and no one will talk to me. The conversations are exclusively between me, and my work. This is when the insanity is not interrupted, this is nirvana. And it is always the most productive.

My last two miniseries that I am working on are in sculpture and in block printing. I am filing in one credit with a studio course and that would be third year, sculpture. The next semester the professor wanted to see more mold making from me. I want to either play with identity or keep on my relatively autobiographical scene. And block printing is just for fun and something to sell. That and maybe they’re cop-outs for things I wanted to make but never could crystallize my theory behind them. We shall see.

I think that’s enough for me tonight. Hopefully Sunday I will have photos taken of my major studio series and be able to show you my accomplishments of the week (remember I said I didn’t want to do a Sunday update without accomplishing something) and whatever else I discover along the way.

Next Episode:

  • photos of the major studio series thus far
  • finding my drawings and hopefully documenting those
  • the major studio journal, a.k.a. “My Little Spellbook”
  • my weird, wonderful and midnight fascinations

-Elizabeth Hoskin, and I am LovingBedlam


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