In Search of the Artistic Home
Jamie Gahlon has asked theatre artists from around the country to talk about their personal search for an artistic home. Kirk Lynn continues this series.
What makes an artistic home?
How do I understand this question? The first thing that comes to mind is the answer to the question: how do you make a home for an artist in this world, this economy, this culture? I think of sustainability, community, resources. I think all of these things are easier to find collaboratively. Making alliances with other artists is a great idea, a great pathway toward an artistic home. There are easy ways to begin this. Go to classes. Join writer’s groups or director’s guilds or a union. Invite artists in your community to your house once a month for a party or a brunch. Split the cost of the beer or the food. Wahlah, you’ve got a collective relationship. Expand from there.
Part of the spirit in which we work is developing a relationship with dissatisfaction. We want to do better. We want to learn more. We want to work harder.
But then this other understanding of the question starts to creep into my mind. Do artist’s have homes? Part of the spirit in which we work is developing a relationship with dissatisfaction. We want to do better. We want to learn more. We want to work harder. These desires spill out into our lives pretty easily. If artists sometimes have reputations for being cantankerous or egotistic I think it might be because the dam broke and some of our passion flooded out into our regular lives.
It’s good to pack up all your things and move on, sometimes. I want to live in the woods. I want to live in Paris. I want to live in isolation for a year. I have a baby who’s almost two years old. I have a company in the Rude Mechs with which I want to make all my work. I want to make a solo show. I want to write novels. I want to make a permanent home for myself at the University of Texas. I want to start my own devised theatre program somewhere else. I never want to teach again. I definitely never want to answer any more questions for public consumption.
Building a space/a community/a family/an institution/a friendship that can contain all these impulses and a thousand more is important and hard. I think a lot of the work is learning to allow others in your community/family/institution/friendship to operate from the same multiplicity and contradiction that you don’t bat an eye at in yourself. At least, that’s what I need to practice these days in order to keep building my own artistic home.
Where and how did you find yours and what does it mean to you?
The Rude Mechs is my essential artistic home. I think they sort of found me. I was willing to make work with them in any style. I was willing to change my expectations about what it meant to be a writer. I was willing to read and study and work every morning, and invite the ideas of others into my work. I was willing to give my work to the service of others.
My relationship with my wife, Carrie Fountain, is also, in part, an artistic home (I say "in part” cause it’s also 10,000 other things besides). Many of the same practices apply. A willingness to adapt to her needs. To communicate my own needs clearly so that she doesn’t have to guess after my moods.
Without these homes I wouldn’t write. I wouldn’t know how. I wouldn’t have been able to see myself sober. I wouldn’t have any connection to God. I wouldn’t know how to pray. I would be a remarkable asshole.
How can one create and/or build an artistic home for others?
Make room in your life. Stop watching TV. Stop playing fantasy football. Make three hours a day you can dedicate to someone else’s desires. Practice desiring the things the people you love desire. Confuse yourself about who you are. Throw out every CD you listened to for the last ten years and start listening only to music you steal from your friends. Never return any book you borrow from anybody—once you read it, it’s yours—if the original owner takes it back, she’s borrowing it from you now. Stop being an expert about everything. Stop being an expert about anything. Ask your friends for help with your new project, which is in fact their project, too.
What is the artistic home of the future?
Collective structures are back. I didn’t even write this. I googled interviews with other Rude Mechs and copied and adapted shit they said. I trolled through your Facebook page, Jamie, and copied and adapted shit you said. Collective structures are hard to maintain, but when they break apart they multiply. There is probably a current or ex-Rude Mechanical in your town. I recommend taking this person out for a drink, laugh with this person, tell stories, take him or her home. See how far you can get. They took me all the way.