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 young, 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, but creating murals and larger public works taught me that art was no longer just a beautiful expression, an ode to draftsmanship and talent. Art became a way to change the landscape, both physical and mental, and maybe even a way to communicate change to the world.

But the world had other ideas in mind, it seemed, mostly driven by an 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 abilities that I’d been honing as a hobby. In the third grade I had decided to be an artist after getting public praise from my teacher for a piece I drew. It was after moving to a new town and being friendless for over a year. 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; and, also, I’m known for being quite stubborn.

I excelled at making art all the way through university, 6.5 years altogether, traveled the globe, created deep, lifelong friendships, and up until this day struggled the entire time with being an artist in the world. As an artist, it’s hard to say … but, I probably do ride a line when it comes to stability. My life thus far speaks volumes on this, having tried 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. In some way, I see that having engaged in ceramics, woodworking, writing, and so many other stability-driven endeavors, I've since been able to develop a mature platform, and to develop something else I’ve been struggling with from the beginning: to find my own voice.

Like the process piece I made as an undergrad back in California, building 700+  tiny clay televisions, with screens, knobs, and antennas cut from trash picked up in alleys, then gluing each individual TV onto a chicken-wire couch, which would end up buried under weeds in a field somewhere in the hills behind Santa Barbara, my work keeps moving, keeps creeping, sliding forever forward into the next incarnation. Each spiral I draw, or paint, or even carve, builds a universe unto itself, eventually disappearing into the over-paint, stain, or glaze that covers it, relegating what's come before to memory, and pushing each new moment into 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 my soul. It’s always there, hiding sometimes, whispering that it could be different, that there could be something more, something relevant. Why do we even do it, we ask together, why is it ‘this’ that makes us alive—why?! Then, thankfully, even with a suppressed sense of glee, we get tired … or hungry … or bored; then art and I have no choice but to move on to the maneuvers of living.

© 2019 Drew T. Noll - All rights reserved

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