Artist's Statement

Life began for me in a very different place than I now find myself. 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. And, even before I was a budding young artist the art around me 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 the day; but, creating murals and larger public works taught me that art, for me, was no longer just a beautiful expression, an ode to draftsmanship and effort, or the shape and lines that somehow signified beauty and talent. 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, which was driven mostly by my own deep internal struggles 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 as a hobby. That was not exactly my plan, even though it was the sensible choice. I had already decided to be an artist... In the third grade, after moving to a new town and being friendless for a time, I decided my future 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 young age; I've also always been such a stubborn soul.

I excelled in the arts all the way through college and university, altogether about 7 years. 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. My life choices, thus far, speak volumes on this dilemma, 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, marketing, teaching, and other stability-driven endeavors, I've since been able to develop a more 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 made 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 the Santa Barbara News Press, would end up buried under weeds in a field somewhere in the hills behind the coastal town I lived in at the time. Thinking back on this speaks to me about how 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 an aspect of one of my soul-parts. It’s always there, hiding, whispering that life could be different, that there could be something more, something tangibly relevant, a path to live by, exactly like what 'they' have said during this lifetime—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 some mental corner, we get tired … or hungry … or bored—enabling art and I to believe that we have no choice and to then just move on to the maneuvers of living.

© 2021 Drew T. Noll - All rights reserved

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