I had my panel presentation for “Grace” on April 17, 2017. My panelist had been this really nice gay guy from a university whose name i forgot, who was obviously a good friend of my professor, who engaged me on my installation on a level that i didn’t expect. Imma be expounding on this later, but like just know that it got me fucked up. but in a good way. NOT THAT WAY. but still in a good way.
I guess… this is the end guys.
It’s been nice working with yall 😦 For this blog post, imma go back to my meta roots. Our professor asked us to make this blog post as a way to synthesize everything we learned in this subject like encompassing the lectures, organizing the creative process, setting up the exhibit itself, and even applying the critiques of the panelist (like how did this entire process help me as an artist?) How can it help me evolve?
i hope you enjoyed the ride as much as i did ❤
Begin with an introduction of your work, very similar to the short paragraph you included in the last blog post. Feel free to talk about anecdotes, important details, and primary stimuli that led to this work. If needed, frame it within the problem area or general concern you were trying to address.
Imma format this part to look like the paragraph I put in the previous blog post, and then I’ll insert anecdotes here that I hope would supplement the introductory paragraph I gave for the installation in my last blog post. Here we go!
“Grace is an interactive installation that attempts to subvert a space usually reserved for praise and worship by presenting five pre-recorded poems dealing with sexual and conventionally sinful themes and images inside this space.”
This was something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now—not an installation, per se. But like a work of art that physicalized my thoughts on religion and sexuality; a work of art that synthesized these two volatile themes (at least in my opinion) together into something that would provoke thought and (if I’m being truly honest) discomfort. As a boy who grew up in a Catholic household that looked at sexuality as a lowkey taboo topic, being introduced to the relatively liberal views of sex and sexuality in college was really something that shocked and amazed me, and influenced my writing style to the point where I developed a totally new style of writing that I’m sure my high school self would have fainted at.
“By subverting this space, I hoped to present an alternate reality to the experience of Mass.”
I started writing most of my erotic poetry in my freshman year of college. And I was so proud of the stuff I wrote that I started this hashtag on Twitter: #3stPoetry. Somehow, I found my style immediately, the style I use when writing most of my poems: Biblical erotica. A lot of my erotic poems utilize Biblical language, images, and symbols. I used to be able to shit out poetry every night, which I kept in a separate category on my Notepad app on my phone. Looking back, I honestly think none of them were that good. But a lot of them are on my Wattpad *cringe*
But then like slowly I started hitting more and more dry spells, and the only times I’d be able to get inspiration was whenever my dad would drag me off to Mass with him. As weird and blasphemous as it is, I’d just like take a good long look at Jesus all shirtless and bloody and nailed on hard wood and I’d just… have an idea.
“The five poems make use of religious imagery and utilize primarily feminine personas and perspectives.”
I grew up surrounded by girls. Sisters. Maids. Grandmothers. Aunts. Barbie. Disney princesses. I’m not saying that they’re the reason why they’re gay. I’m putting them here because it’s because of them that I get super rankled over how women are treated in a patriarchal society—and how women are treated in the Bible. But I feel like being primarily exposed to movies that have female protagonists is a big factor in why I always tend to write my poetry with the persona as the women/the beloved.
“Participants are led inside the church, where they are to listen to the poems through a pair of headphones to enhance the illusion of intimacy that I believe churchgoers conjure up when “conversing” with God through the sacramental mass.”
It took a while for me to learn how to keep my thoughts in check during Mass. I’m not allowed to think of sex or abs or dicks while in church. That’s just wrong. I’m not allowed to thin of the rough slide of a beard against a hairless chest, or the wet stripe of a tongue licking a path into holy land. That’s just blasphemous. These are intimate images, but they are inappropriate in a sacred house such as the church. But I think of them. And though they normally wouldn’t make me uncomfortable, the fact that I’m in the house of a Lord who I feel like doesn’t 100% approve that I like dick better than pussy would make me squirm in my seat.
Include here photo or video documentation of both PROCESS and WORK. Treat the two as separate sections. The documentation of the process will include relevant pictures, drafts, studies, attempts, or even mind maps. At the end, the documentation of the work should mimic the one presented in the previous blog post. If there is a full video of the work, please include it.
My idea actually evolved from setting up a confessional booth and playing pre-recorded confessionals to confessional poetry. This was mainly because like I suck at setting up fictional conversations. Like looking back the short stories I’ve written that required dialogue, they’re so cringe-worthy because the speakers sound like they’re either too plastic or the flow of their conversation would be like all over the place. Accepting this, i knew that i wouldn’t be able to pull off something as sincere as confession. Poetry sounded, therefore, like a much more logical medium to use.
I don’t even have first drafts or anything because I wrote most of them on my phone like i mean I wasn’t even supposed to have them recorded at first ?? like they were all supposed to come in a chapbook stylized as a small prayer booklet and everything. I would be dressed up as a priest, and I would have assistants dressed up as clergymen that would oversee the participants to enhance that feeling of “oh you’re listening to sin and we’re judging you”
I dedicated a week to writing fifteen poems. At the end of that week, I only managed to write five. so like yall can imagine my dismay like girrrl dis-MAY BE A PROBLEM so like I had to adjust. No one responded to my open call for actors who want to dress up as a priest. I couldn’t find a place that sold/rented a priest get-up. And when i FINALLY finalized my adjustments, everything was too different—so much so that i ended up changing my installation title from “Confessions” to “Grace”.
After i adjusted, I started looking for venues to host my installation AND APPARENTLY THE VENUE I GOT WAS A BIG DEAL because okay like a small chapel turned me down already because: ‘oh that’s for art right? oh, art has no place here. The holy body of Christ is up in here.’
ofc thats not what they said verbatim but thats like the summary.
BUT GUESS WHAT ?? SHOUTOUT TO THEM PEOPLE WHO TURNED ME DOWN BECAUSE APPARENTLY I WAS MEANT FOR BIGGER THINGS AND I LIKE BIG THINGS BECAUSE GUESS WHO APPROVED ??
oh and just in case yall don’t know what the Gesu looks like
mmHHHMMMMM fuck yall
And I can never forget these amazing people who helped me out with my poetry.
They were essential to this. And without them i wouldn’t have had an installation.
AND ALSO THESE PEOPLE WHO CAME BECAUSE WITHOUT THEM THIS INSTALLATION WOULD HAVE BEEN A BUST
And if yall need a link to the works again, here you go ❤
Evaluation of Process
In this section, discuss the whole semester and its important points in the pursuit of your art. What has the whole process of Research in the Arts revealed to you? How did the structuring of something as abstract as a creative process help you in the actual creation of art? Did you learn new things about art? What is the difference between understanding art as a body of information and discovering it via practice and exhibition? What have I learned after having someone outside of the classroom critique my art in the panel presentation? These questions overlap — find a coherent thread to pursue, then come to terms with an understanding of the whole process.
ok to get serious the entire process was strangely exposing? like the entire process of writing poetry with personas and imagery i hold close to my heart and then sharing those poems with other people in a space that, even though i’ve expressed desire to desecrate, I’ve long considered holy my entire life… drained me.
but it was the good kind of draining? And even afterward, when I presented my installation to someone who’s lived longer and who’s seen more of the world (and especially, more of the world through familiar eyes… aka my panelist was hella gay too), I continued to learn.
What did I learn? well i feel like the most important thing i learned from this came in the form of my panel presentation. ok because you see the reason why i utilized feminine/effeminate personas who engaged in sexual acts was because throughout my entire life i feel like i’ve always related more to the narrative of a woman, or the beloved. My desires and sexuality have been oppressed by my religion. My god is a man who demands that i kneel before him. Man oppresses me. Man has made me feel unloved or insufficient in my own body.So my poetry aimed to give these struggles voice, to give these voiceless women voice. And
So my poetry aimed to give these struggles voice, to give these voiceless women voice. And i thought i was doing right. But then the panelist raised an important question/point: “who am I, as a man, to give voice to a woman? Is that not an act of playing god already?”
I was shook. like hella shook. because he had a point. i’ve lowkey been trying to undermine the narrative of the patriarchy through these poems, but my poetry could also be viewed as me only perpetuating the narrative of the patriarchy through man-splaining the struggles of a woman !!
I’m not a woman. I’m a man. A gay man. But still a man.The entire process had led me to this revelation—everything from the necessity of structuring the entire creative process to my understanding of art not just as a body of information, but as a physical form that requires self-recovery, self-reflection, and hell maybe even self-indulgence. I’ll do my best to articulate why each of these things had been fuckin essential:
the way i structured the creative process helped me come to this revelation because of the meaning i imbued behind each step. I assigned meaning to everything, from the images in the poems, to even the number of poems involved in the installation. And when I had to adjust everything for the sake of time constraints, i still did my best to assign meaning to the change in number—from fifteen to five. And something i learned from this semester (that i can’t entirely attribute to this subject) is that meaning is never entirely universal. We each hold our definition for the things around us. Meanings change. And even when i thought that the meanings i held for the poems in my installation were sound, my panelist challenged those meanings.
Meanwhile, my understanding of art comes into play here because maybe for the first time, what i learned from studying art theory becomes something that i can apply to my own craft. The comments my panelists left me with will forever be something that i will bring up to myself when i think of writing poems that employ the same images—the same meanings as the ones i included in my installation.
if their comments were metaphors, they would be notes i’d pin to the corkboard at my writing desk. There would have been a difference if i had come to understand art as a mere body of information, and not as a practice or as an exhibition: and it would have lied mainly in its relevance to my day-to-day life.
If i had understood art as a mere body of knowledge, i wouldn’t have completely comprehended how much of a struggle it was to create something filled with personal or universal meaning. I wouldn’t have understood the feeling of vulnerability that would come with assigning meaning, and then having someone say: “I don’t get it.”
These were all necessary struggles. And though i had failed in some aspects, i personally believe that these were necessary failures that would only allow me to grow as a better artist.
What’s next for you as an artist? The recovery process is a fluctuation–if you were able to recover everything you wanted to recover at the start of the semester, another loss will take its place. If you weren’t able to recover it, you will probably consider more attempts. All this to say–there is always something new, some new horizon to visualize. Where do you want to go as an artist? Be tangible. Take us there.
I guess what’s next for me as an artist would be more honesty, like in terms of my poetry and my prose.
No doubt i’ll still slip into the habit of hiding myself behind the voice of a woman, but im hoping it would be for good reason now. As an artist, I’ll aim to be more aware of my artistic decisions; whether that includes giving voices to women, or shedding light on narratives that shouldn’t be mine to tell.
And since i chose to specialize in fiction, i plan to develop my prosaic style in such a way that my stories would become much like my poetry: metaphors filled with not just universal meaning, but with personal meaning that becomes universal in its metaphorization. I’m sorry if i’m not making sense.
I don’t know how i plan to put these notions into stories on paper. But i feel like i’ll get there somehow. I can’t ever put enough emphasis on how important a step this installation had been for me.
So… thank you.