At my own intersection of thought and making work
“Intersections are stressful places.” The thought occurs to me as I’m sitting in morning traffic at a red light and notice a woman stuck in the intersection, trying to make a left, waiting for an oncoming car to cross.
She’s stuck, unable to go until this other car traverses through the intersection. She’s stretched her neck out and she’s visibly nervous, as she waits in the middle of the very busy intersection of US1. The anxiety is palpable, and I can imagine her urging the driver to, “Hurry up, already!”
Then I started to wonder, “How does this apply to other intersections? In life? In culture? In society?” Every day, we come to intersections in all kinds of places. We even call important life choices standing “at the crossroads.” You’re at an intersection and you have to make a decision, or you’re in the process of making a decision and something is preventing you from moving forward as it crosses through, ahead of you. Being there is stressful.
Throughout history, when cultures intersected there were clashes, misunderstandings, and even wars. Humans don’t always deal well with the stress and fear that surface in intersections. Miami is a cultural intersection, with diverse communities crossing and overflowing one into the other, and this city has had its share of conflict as a result. And not just at an intersection in rush hour traffic.
As I ruminated on this theme, I then asked myself how I could make a visual representation of the stress and anxiety of sitting at an intersection while waiting to make a decision, to make a choice, and to continue forward along that chosen path. Specifically along one’s own, selected path — choosing your fate, without letting fear get in the way. Or maybe with fate interfering, redirecting you by removing your choice — and causing you to go in that new direction.
Close up of “Fool’s Journey” (2017) by Jean Blackwell Font
After a few minutes of this way of thinking, I stopped and realized this was getting way too deep for an 8:30 a.m. commute. Still, I want to work on addressing the idea of the intersection. My current body of work, Family Myths, deals with memory and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I’d like to explore the concept of not just the memory of the life event, but the choices made that led to the events that make up my myths. Like my parents’ “Honeymoon in Niagara Falls”, which didn’t actually happen in Niagara Falls because of an intersection of responsibility, economic need, and promises made (and broken.) Or the memory of the death of a child that came before me; not my memory, but the myth of that child, the legend of a son lost too soon, that shadows me to this day.
As I move back into the studio at Warehouse 4726, I’m going to be thinking about this new approach. I’ve spent months developing this current work, and now I’m moving into my own intersection. I have this current work moving me along through my life’s stories and events, and now I have these new ideas rushing up and telling me to, “Hurry up, already!”