To respect the inquiry

"Untitled (9 5 20)" - Carraher 2020

Untitled (9 5 20)
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 in. 

It’s been difficult to keep perspective in the studio lately.  Now that I have more time to work I’m producing a lot, and it’s dismaying how much of it is really not very good.  The piles of failed or misfired work jumbled everywhere has at times left me with a sense of actual nausea, almost a vertigo.  Today I had to remind myself that the inquiry  – the process of undertaking things I don’t know if I can do, journeys whose destination is unclear – is necessary and must be respected on its own terms.  I have to remind myself that it is the hunt into the unknown that matters — the only way to find what might be there, that which one can’t dream of yet but can only feel.  And of course, even when one fails to capture anything worthwhile, that quest is nevertheless how one learns, develops skills, understands what one has or has not mastered. 

The work above I feel good about.  It’s one of those that gave me subtle leads from the beginning about what step to take next, leads I had the sense to follow, and in the end it gives me a deep satisfaction.  It has that “complex of qualities whose feeling is just right…”.   For me, at least.  I really couldn’t guess if anyone else might find it worthwhile; it is a handicap not being able to show original work to others for extended periods, such as we’re trapped in now.  One more reason for the difficulty keeping perspective. 

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