By Way of Introduction

Alicia Cannizzo, Janus Figure, 2020

I was watching a Seth Godin lecture a little while ago, something he had done for a crafts organization. In it he talks about how the person who was inventing ships didn’t stop to worry about shipwrecks. And lots of horrible shipwrecks have happened because of that invention. But it was still something great to create, wasn’t it? It led to other things that defined whole epochs of human history. It is essential for some people to use their mind and hands to create something, and that thing can build whole new ways of being. And one can’t stop to worry about the shipwrecks.

Concern about shipwrecks is probably why I started graduate school. I emerged from undergrad with a BA in studio art and a whole lot of fear about my future. Knowing the impracticality of a career in the arts I tried to convince myself to become a librarian, maybe a counselor. I spent five memorably horrible months as a paralegal. These things were wrong for me. So instead I became someone who writes about art, talks about it. Maybe someone who gets to touch it on occasion. I pursued advanced degrees in art history. This was also courting shipwreck since the number of tenure-track jobs continues to decline at alarming rates, but it felt like a safer option to me. 

I spent eight years studying the history of art. It was not a safe option, my ships constantly threatened to go down, but oh, what I learned. The artworks I’ve had the privilege to study. The sense of history I’ve had a chance to develop. The students I’ve had, the lectures I’ve had the privilege to deliver. It turns out that when you are in love with something, academia can be a juicy place to be.

But, like Persephone when she is above ground, I felt a gnawing absence. I needed to be making things. I needed reasons to dip down into my own underworld, to encounter the depths of human experience in the most direct and primal way I can conceive, as a maker. Being an artist for me is messy and often grotesque; it holds all the monsters of the deep.

This blog chronicles my forays out into the mists, giving me a chance to share my own creations and artistic process, as well as the objects and historical knowledge that I love. At this point my academic training is inseparable from my artistic practice. Here, with no one to read but those who wander in and like the space, I can play fast and loose with my love of history and my maker’s heart, explore it all and share what I find. I hope you choose to stay for the journey.

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