This chapbook is result of the collective efforts of nineteen students in ART480: Art Honors at the University of Washington Seattle. In the fall of 2020, each of these students is beginning senior year, and with that a journey of artistic transformation. This journey takes each individual on an exploration of their own artistic modus operandi. Throughout the quarter, these young artists are thinking with heightened scrutiny about the creative process in visual arts, and doing so from a position of self-reflection.
This fall is also a painful and complicated time during a globally raging corona virus pandemic that has stretched resources and patience, forced us off campus, out of the studios of the art building and into a permanent position of waiting. So much of our personal interactions has become confined to the computer screen, while our societies are coming to a reckoning with intertwined legacies of colonialism, slavery, and systemic racism. This fall is also the near-conclusion of a drawn-out national election that has severely challenged the democratic state, while signs of an impending climate catastrophe continue to press forward unchecked, irreversibly destroying our natural environment.
This is the backdrop for a class full of visual artists to have a conversation about why we make, how we work, and how the creative process unfolds. What makes each of us get up in the morning and push forward with generating new images, objects, and experiences. Yes, for ourselves, but also, and most importantly, for others. What inspires us, what excites us, and how to begin understanding one’s creative habits deeper. For 11 weeks, we would come together in class as a community to discuss, to share, to make, to talk with artist guests, and to ask difficult questions from ourselves. As a record of these dialogues, as an artifact of the ongoing self-exploration, each student created a chapter for this chapbook by journaling their way through the quarter, using past and current artwork examples, while also candidly reflecting on personal inspirations, studio habits, and on the individual challenges and rewards of engaging with art making.
The sum of these first person accounts is a wholesome picture of the contemporary art making process, in all its conviction and its uncertainty. In all of its sacred solitude, but also in its very communal nature. No matter if one is just starting out, or has been on this professional path for decades. We can’t help but to be part of the moment, and we contribute to this moment by sharing not only what we made, but also what we are thinking.
I am thankful to UW Open Education librarian Lauren Ray for introducing the publishing platform, PressBooks, to me and for working with the class throughout the quarter on pulling this project together.
I am grateful to the students for trusting me that the exercise of regular dialogue, writing with prompts, digesting simple questions until they become challenging (and vice versa), relating words to the tangible results of one’s creative output, and editing, editing, and then editing some more has something valuable to offer to a visual artist.
Timea Tihanyi, Teaching Professor
Interdisciplinary Visual Arts, School of Art + Art History and Design
December 11, 2020