Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grayson Perry and the Importance of Place

I haven't had time or money to work on my own work lately, but as usual I am always reading about art and artists. This week I came across Grayson Perry in one of my readings for class. Perry is one of the winners of the Turner Prize, a prestigious award for British artists which he won in 2003. Here is a picture of him as he usually looks whenever he is in the public eye of the art world:

Pretty awesome, right? Perry's work is based off of investigating his own native English nationality. He makes large scale tapestries and pottery that evoke the history of English culture and weaves his own personal traumas about his upbringing into his chosen imagery.

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Perry's views on the subject of "place" resonated strongly with me. In an article entitled Lobbying for Beauty: Grayson Perry's Progress, Sue Hubbard quotes him as saying, "'I feel qualified to comment on Englishness. I am embedded in and representative of the culture. I couldn't make work about somewhere that I didn't know intimately. I have to have an emotional stake and understand the references.'" He also feels that traveling to gain inspiration for art is rather fake, and that it is only a chance to show off the traveling that you have done.

Perry's words reinforced a feeling I have been having lately about trying to figure out where to go after school. For a long time I was content on staying in the Midwest, but was told over and over that I should go to New York, or Berlin. My gut feeling is that I would not feel comfortable in either one of those places, and I am going to stand by my conviction that I do not have to go to a big art city to make a career out of my art major. Art is about life, and it is about embedding yourself in a culture that is not necessarily the most supportive of the arts. If I were to move to New York, my art would turn into art about New York. But I would feel like a foreigner trying to capture the essence of a city I don't understand. With Perry's words in mind I will go to a place where I feel comfortable after school and produce art that feels like the truth. I won't sacrifice genuine art work for a job that will maybe pay a little bit more and will maybe lead me to bigger and "better" things.

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