Ants Gone Wild 2012, Port Moody Arts Centre, Plum Gallery Display Case, Port Moody, BC.
The Conceptual Development phase of the show Ants Gone Wild was very difficult for me. The curator, Susan Jessop, specifically requested the inside of the cabinet should represent what it’s like to be inside the mind of an artist. As an artist, I am generally resistant to sharing the contents and thoughts in my mind with people, as I prefer not to share the steps involved in my personal creative process to avoid any criticism or perceived ridicule before production.
There is some irony for my desire to withhold my mind’s contents. The central theme of my entire art practice is the exploration of human vulnerability, seeking the silent space between comfort and discomfort, which requires being present and facing fear. Yet I was actually blocked by my own mental refusal to share any of my thoughts and become vulnerable.
During conceptual brainstorming exercises, my mind experienced tantrums similar to those of a toddler acting out rebellious defiance against a hovering parent. My mind kicked, screamed and tossed violent statements, such as “Don’t share! People destroy anything precious or vulnerable! Give them nothing!” There were many self-inflicted hurdles to overcome.
One “blocked” idea that almost became the actual installation was literally demonstrating my resistance of sharing the contents of my mind. The installation consisted of 9’ x 12’ foam core barricade between the cabinet, which represents my mind blocking you – the viewer – out. The image on the foam core would have been a computer-sketched cabinet. Definitely something to analyze but not the direction I wanted to go in. It was too easy to reject this assignment and make it about my resistance.
During this complicated process, my show partner decided he no longer wanted to participate in the installation. He provided a friendly, diplomatic departing statement as to why he did not feel this installation was appropriate for him to participate in.
Completely alone with a cabinet to fill with words and images, I faced my mental demons. Thankfully, my personal demons warm up to biological subjects and “we” agreed upon expressing my theme with one of my favorite themes: ANTS! Visualizing lots and lots of little white ants flooding the cabinet, relieved my anxiety toward the installation immediately.
There are frantic and chaotic rhythms that circulate and intersect within my mind. Much is accomplished, even if this pattern doesn’t necessarily make sense to others. Ants moving in many directions best represent this state. At a distance the ants look like chaos, but most individuals accomplish their tasks. White symbolizes the simplicity and calm, which I continually strive for even within mental storms. A snowstorm of ants in the process of creating a whiteout is finally the solution to the curator’s request: what’s it like in my mind!
Happy anxious busy calm. Welcome to my mind.