What roles do personal narrative, family history, and memory play in your work?
George: These three things are tethers of my practice. Ultimately, I’m interested in sitting with stories that are lost, fragmented, or misrepresented. This is how I approach working within queer archives (one pillar of my practice), and also how I approach my own family histories. I’m interested in these micro narratives, which of course feed into the macro: a satellite story within a constellation of stories and movements; the ways that my own narrative intersects with others, past and present. My personal narrative is hyper-specific, but it is also shared—with individuals who have experienced familial dispute/divorce, navigations with spiritual communities, growing up queer, etc. I want to explore and tell my story with honesty (a loaded term) and share that story with others.
William: As an immigrant in this country, the simultaneous histories of my birthplace and my present are constantly interwoven to build a forcefully atemporal construction of home. For me, this necessarily changes both the function of, and the expectations for, representation. It opens up a space for magical realism, surrealism, geometric abstraction, naturalism, and even digital systems-based processes, all conspiring to build a more accurate, more felt, and perhaps more honest version of history.
What is your daily art-making routine?
William: My day usually starts with a workout, either cardio or lifting. Then I spend some time with my daughter when she wakes up. We’ll have breakfast together and play for a bit. Then I leave for the studio. I usually get to working around 9:30 in the morning, and I wrap up around 4:30. I’ve learned that I’m at my best in the morning hours.
George: I don’t quite have a daily art-making routine. My practice has always been nestled between life and work. The Pew Fellowship has offered me a chance to refocus on the practice, but thus far I’m still squeezing the making in between teaching and various other obligations. I think many people still hold this fantasy of the artist waking up and going into their studio for the day to create without distraction or inhibition. I have found this at times (at residencies), but in my daily life there are far more administrative obligations: researching, responding to emails, applying for funding opportunities, meeting with individuals, etc. I tend to pick away at projects more slowly—sifting, thinking, collecting—and then really concentrating when there’s a deadline.
What do you wish people would ask you about your work? Or, what’s the one thing you want people to know about what you do?
George: In general, I don’t create work with set expectations of what I want people to ask or “get” from it. Rather, I aim to create from a place of emotions and intuition and allow the work to tell its own story. I’m more interested in proposing further questions than answering them. That being said, I’ve had many rewarding conversations with different individuals who have found a tether in my work, whether that’s through the family, queerness, or a distanced relationship to culture. I value when the work can act as a catalyst to new (or ongoing) conversations. Ultimately, I make work to try to understand my unique place in the world, but always with the understanding that these experiences are undoubtedly shared.
William: I try not to anticipate where my viewers’ curiosity might be focused. (I don’t even think it’s possible to do so.) Instead, I try to remain actively engaged and honest with my own curiosity about my work, in the hopes that my viewer might also respond to what I’m responding to. The character and nature of their response isn’t mine to control, nor is it interesting to try to predict.