Artist's Statement

My life began in a very different place than I find myself in now. From a young age I was told by adults and peers that I could draw, which was the reason I began to ask myself what art 'actually' was. Even before I was a youngster art had become more celebrity than draftsmanship, but I really didn’t comprehend that shift until I was an undergraduate student. I was always interested in ceramics, and some of my sculpture found its way into the popular eye of that day; but, creating murals and larger public works taught me that art, to me, was no longer just a beautiful expression, an ode to draftsmanship and hard effort. Art had become a way to change the landscape conceptually, and maybe even a way to communicate change to the world.

But the world had other ideas in mind, driven mostly by my own deep internal struggle implanted by loved ones. I heard it from my parents, from my friends, from everyone, including my high school art teacher (also the football coach), who taught me that I could never earn a living as an artist, and to use the artistic talent and drive that I’d been honing since the third grade as a hobby. That was not exactly my plan, even though it was the sensible choice. I had already decided to be an artist; after moving to a new town and being friendless for a time, I decided to be an artist after having gotten public praise from my teacher for a piece I drew. I was struggling to figure out who I was at the time, feeling totally alone and cut off, so it makes sense that I would have made such a rash decision at such a tender young age; I'm also stubborn.

I excelled at making art all the way through college and university, almost 7 years altogether. I traveled the globe, created deep, lifelong friendships, and up until this day I've struggled the entire time with being an artist in the world I live in. My life choices, thus far, speak volumes on this, having attempted to support my family with just about anything that would help pay the bills. Accordingly, my work has been all over the map, including a period creating functional art and design when I ran my own custom woodworking studio. Most surprisingly, however, I see that having engaged in ceramics, woodworking, writing, teaching, and many other stability-driven endeavors, I've since been able to develop a ... kind of mature platform, and to develop something else I’ve been struggling with from the very beginning, to find my own voice.

I built a process piece when I was an undergraduate student back in California. I built over 700 tiny clay televisions, with screens, knobs, and antennas cut from trash picked up in alleys. I glued each individual TV onto a sculpted pig-wire couch, which, after being exhibited, winning a first place award, and being reviewed on the cover of the Arts and Leisure section of our local paper, would end up buried under weeds in a field somewhere in the hills behind the coastal town of Santa Barbara. Thinking back on this tells me that my work keeps moving, creeping, sliding forever forward into the next incarnation. Each spiral I draw, paint, carve, or write, builds a universe unto itself, eventually disappearing into the over-paint, stain, glaze, or idea that covers it, relegating what's come before to memory, and pushing each brand new moment into a birth of eventual extinction.

 

I believe this is where the bones I build come from. It’s like having an ongoing conversation with a thing that resides within my head, within one of my souls. It’s always there, hiding sometimes, whispering that life could be different, that there could be something more, something tangibly relevant, a path to live by. Why do we even do it, we ask ourselves, why is it ‘this’ that makes us alive—why?! Then, thankfully, even with a suppressed sense of glee screaming from a mental corner, we get tired … or hungry … or bored—then art and I have no choice but to move on to the ongoing maneuvers of living.

© 2020 Drew T. Noll - All rights reserved

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