This week begins my second week of residency at TVAK in Ahmedabad. The set-up is pretty basic – I have a room where I sleep and a studio. It seems that there have not been any artists here for a while so getting the studio into shape has taken a few days. Gathering materials has also taken some days and I am still lacking a few things. Ahmedabad is home to one of the largest design colleges in India, so art supplies are readily available. Gujarat is home to some of the most impressive textiles in all of India, so finding fabric and notions has also been fairly simple. And not so simple. It seems like everyone relies on relationship to get what they need. Sure, I can google “fabric stores, Ahmedabad” but I might as well be jumping into a lagoon filled with crocodiles. No, I must go to the certain shop where my host does her fabric shopping. Otherwise, how can I trust? On the other hand, it means that I have to wait for her to assist with the purchase. It’s a toss-up: crocodiles or patience (and maybe a bargain or better quality).
That’s the beauty of travel, isn’t it? Venturing into the unknown and seeing what happens. For me, the bonus of it all is that I get to immediately come back and make artwork about it. Indeed, I am working on two larger projects that come directly out of this travel experience as well as some smaller pieces that are more like side explorations related to the larger works. It is difficult to say much at this point. Things are not quite formed into words (or materials, for that matter). So, I think I would rather focus on an internal dialogue that has played out over and over in the past week.
Essentially, I am here on my own. No one is watching to see if I am putting in X hours/day in the studio. No is checking in, marking my progress or measuring production. In other words, it is really up to me to care because no one else is looking. The work I make can be as large or as small as I make it – that I care to make it. Perhaps that sounds strange to say, considering that I have traveled such a long distance to be here but it is question that I have felt acutely each day. Do I dare to think big? Take risks? Possibly make a big mess? Over and over, I watch myself lean towards playing it safe and I have to push myself to be bigger. Some of the logistics of being here make seemingly simple tasks feel difficult (see above crocodiles) but I see how I allow that to be an excuse to narrow my scope.
What if I go all in?
How can not going all in actually even be a possibility?
Where does this message to be small come from?
And can now be the time to retire it?