What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
I like to Swiffer the floor first.
Which artist, historic or contemporary, from any discipline, couldn’t you live without?
Tell us about a time you failed.
At some point in every day.
What’s your go-to remedy when you feel doubt about your work?
Make more work.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you want to do professionally?
Forensic work, private investigator, or librarian.
Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
For rejuvenation, I like to get in my kayak and paddle. The water immediately releases all my stress. For inspiration, I like to get into conversations. I belong to a salon group that has been meeting the first Monday of every month for four years. We pick a topic and have conversation—sounds simple, but it inspires me every time!
What implement in your “toolbox” as an artist do you love or depend on most?
I have thousands of pencils.
What do your parents think about your being an artist?
After receiving my MFA, my mom asked, “Do you think you could get your money back?”
My parents are very supportive, but they believe art is skill-based only. They think I’m completely weird—but they love me!
As an artist, what keeps you up at night?
Participating in a process of making things that won’t have an effect. I worry that I expect too much of art.
What does success look like to you?
A community of peers with similar goals in our field, sharing ideas and mentoring; being a good and responsible citizen.
What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
Take risks; get involved. Look at work: Go to galleries and museums and seek conversations about your ideas. Be a curious reader.
What book, film, or piece of music do you return to again and again to provoke thought or keep you connected to your artwork?
The book would be The Passion According to G. H., by Clarice Lispector. With music, anything by the Talking Heads.
When do you know a piece is finished?
When I don’t feel it anymore.
Why does art matter?
Art is communication and, historically, art has organized into movements that challenge the status quo. Art matters as a mechanism of diversity as it helps us understand why we matter. Art is this delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge where wonder can exist and empathy felt.
Biggest myth about being an artist?
That we’re all isolationist and moody. That there is some “magic” in you that provides skill. Art is a language and is honed by reorganizing how you look at things.
Which is your favorite course to teach at Watkins?
Senior Thesis and/or Seminar I: I love the moment when juniors in Seminar I are starting to put together formal skills with personal content. Senior Thesis is the reward of seeing these students put it all together and demonstrate their readiness to move through the world with creative and critical tools.
Which one quality do you think the world most needs from artists?
The world needs artists to ask questions, to take the risks necessary to challenge cultural, social, and political ideologies. Artists make things, but they also contribute and practice different ways to approach issues.