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  • Writer's pictureRuth-Anne Siegel

Progress, Progress

Updated: Aug 9, 2023


On June 14 I flew to Chicago to live there for the summer as I started my six week residency for my MFA at SAIC. What a heady time! It was all potential and dreams plus a bit of nerves. Today I am five weeks into this journey.


I came to art school again because I wanted to shake up my painting practice and find that illusive conceptual underpinning of my work that would support and feed my creative creation. These past few weeks have passed by in a blur and yet, I feel I have made incredible progress. By pushing the limits and trying a new modality in the print media studio, I created work I am actually excited about because I experimented and challenged my notions of "what is final" work and used that freedom to explore.


I have used what I have learned from art history and my meetings with my advisor to improvise and connect with my work in a new way. Just as JMW Turner lashed himself to the mast of a ship to feel the storm so he could paint it, I am immersing myself in the music and conversations of my cohort. My in-progress work is challenging me by making me step outside my comfort zone and divining a new path to follow.


I painted to Coltrane. I painted to a playlist of the best songs of 2012. I have listened to classical music and to Tricky, a DJ from London. The "2012" painting was a real departure for me. I took four pieces of canvas paper and taped them together to make four foot by three foot painting. I painted a couple of layers and then turned each piece 180 degrees to make a new painting. I then painted some more.


Firstly, the process of painting on an inexpensive, unstretched surface was incredibly freeing. Secondly, the rotating and reimagining opened up new pathways and ideas that I did not initially see. As the marks were made, I danced and sang and I twirled around my studio to the songs of Ben Folds, Alabama Shakes, Muse, and First Aid Kit to name a few of the bands. Joyous and engaging, my marks were loose and expressive.


I decided that the modularity of paper would encourage me to add a lightness and strip out self-imposed boundaries as I created. I am excited to continue this process as I finish up the residency and ship my work home. Now, which songs will I choose next?

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