My spawn starts Ontario College of Art’s illustration program in a little over a month and he’ll do well. Like his mom, nothing gives him more pleasure than thinking about thinking, and – he should count his blessings on this one – the gene gods gave him his father’s illustration skills.
And this pleases me more than his acceptance to the program or decision – Praise Jesus! – to pay for it himself: At the moment, several entries in my sketchbook are notes based on telephone conversations I’ve had with my son about our respective practices. I had a lot of input on my most recent installation, but he alone asked the hard questions; the important ones, the ones I didn’t want to think about.
And I think he was able to ask those questions because we’ve been working together for more than twenty years now. Art has always been a part of that work, but our collaboration has primarily been about navigating life shit. And that shit matters.
I’m casting a wide net when I speak about collaboration in these terms. It’s based, in part, on two observations: 1) There exists a ‘two brains, one artist’ – or is that ‘two artists, one brain? – phenomenon which precipitates situations where someone you love – with whom you share ‘life shit’ – creates work you feel could be your own and, 2) often the interactions leading to these incidental collaborations happen on-line.
The internet, and social media in particular, is much maligned for having set us all apart. Since I’m only on my first pot of coffee, I’ll not bother explaining my take on why this is so or how the assumption is so horribly wrong. Suffice to say, for the purposes of this post, that in arts practice and life, much collaboration is subliminal and doesn’t always happen where or when we think it happens.