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Monday, May 31, 2010

Syracuse and Spiritus Mundi

This story begins with artists: painters, sculptors, photographers, video and sound
artists. The plot will thicken in Syracuse, New York as artists participating in
the New York Foundation for the the Arts MARK10 program come together for the final
phase of the program.

During the retreat we will talk about the business of being an artist in the
auditorium of Light Work, the Robert B. Menschel Media Center and we will sleep (or not)
at the local Sheraton. Each participant is being asked to bring:

  • A positive attitude
  • 81 copies of a “one-sheet” with our details.
  • Our blue binders- (this is the immeasurably helpful collection of assignments, essays and how-to articles NYFA has organized. The binder is a sort of analytic antidote to the, if not neurotic, then certainly idiosyncratic barricades visual artists work with when writing about and presenting their work).
  • A writing pen- (our instructor, Amber Hawk Swanson thoughtfully made this distinction because as artists we have any number of "pens").
  • Materials to show during one-on-one consultations with other artists, curators and gallerists. These “ingredients” include an artist statement and images of work. We may use a laptop to show images digitally or use our websites (if we have one) but we also must have an “offline” version in the event wifi is not available.
  • Business cards or postcards of works with contact information.
  • And finally, a swim suit, should we decide to swim in the indoor pool at the hotel.
I love being prepared. I have a feeling despite my best intentions, my digital
images, my website, my business cards, and my eighty-one "one-sheets," something is going to be left at home. Less predictable and more ambiguous, I plan to bring a security blanket-
an attitude of "Spiritus Mundi." It is a phrase from the William Butler Yeats poem, The Second

Joan Didion used a line from the poem as a title- Slouching Toward Bethlehem -
her book of essays on the state of America during the sixties. Joni Mitchell
performed a song with the same title on her album, Night Ride Home- the lyrics also
adapted from the poem.

Spiritus Mundi, for Yeats, was the soul of the universe, a universal subconsciousness
connecting all individual souls and memories. Didion's book reported on modern America-
the spirit of our world at that moment, or more analytically the morals and mores of
the times.

In my case, Spiritus Mundi and yes, a swimsuit. How this story ends, who knows?

1 comment:

  1. I am imagining 70 artists discussing business. I think that the first thing we need to discuss is if the "blue" notebook is really the right color for conference. And exactly what "blue" is this? It seems to be neither cobalt nor ultramarine. And how should we order the pages?

    As for the swimsuit, mine is blue. and black. unless I bring the purple one.