So, I applied to a 4 year Practice Based Artists Research PhD program in Stockholm. It was an irresistible opportunity not to apply. Visiting Stockholm in Feb was pretty incredible. I felt really in tune with the city, not to sound to hippy dippy, but I felt like it was the place for me. There’s no perfect place for anyone to live, but there are better than other places.

Knowing that Boston has been a difficult fit these 4 years, Stockholm made me really excited about my art and practice. It doesn’t have to be a side gig in my kitchen alone at night while my roommate cooks a big pot of Penguin (true). What I really need and struggle to find is a worker-bee-creative-hive-makers-community. Why is it so hard to find?

This program appeals more than for the location! There’s the research and industry mind bending creative practice you get to do! And with people who are thrilled to do just the same thing! Not drones or naysayers (yes, of course, maybe…) Not being sarcastic here because cube life is a huge luxury and I’m grateful but it’s pretty damn hard on the psyche (not to mention hard on the love handles, thighs, and thunder ammirite??) and rustling up the energy to create a body of work after class and 9-5 is exhausting and feels at times, so pointless. A lot of my application was about getting to this fundamental-why. Why make?

Truthfully, this was not my finest application for my thoughts get so tangled when it’s time to shine. Maybe I’m not sure I’m an academic, for sure, I’m not quite through with academia and learning. Getting two masters degrees has been great but frustrating-you just can’t get to the thing you want to study because there are rules guarding course catalogues and course requirements! These rules must be followed!

I have a lot of trouble defining the what of my interests. needless to say, the final product, career track, projects are impossible. I struggle most with what I think I want to do vs. what I am realistically capable of achieving. Through and through, I’m grateful and fortunate for my day job, however, I always feel antsy and underused. That’s my responsibility to figure out how to make my position utilize my unique skills.

My reasoning & PhD Proposal Schedule of Study

  • Dive into practice: make a ton of stuff
  • Explore concept: Think about making in new ways-perhaps with a community or class room workshop type setting-make things, sort of “non painting painting” theory exercises I did in undergrad with Chicago painter Michelle Grabner.
  • Run an ethnographic study: answer the true why of why do we make things? Why are the things we call art important?

Like NASA trainee and women’s rights wizard Amanda Nguyen, I too am “pathologically optimistic,” so I’ll remain hopeful for an interview and keep the reigns on any runaway daydreams. I’ve been rejected from lots and lots (LOTS) of things, so I’ll just have to deal :).

Reads & References

Image my own. Made at a Vermont Studio Center residency, March 2009. Oil on panel. (It’s like you’re underwater and you see people also swimming-their top halves are above the surface…not just legs)