traci l turner, traci turner, art, painting, palette, color, artist

Full disclosure: I ain’t been right for a while now. Shit has been so “off” for me. Admitting that isn’t a cry for help though. I’m just saying.

It’s not something that I think is specific to me, because we ALL go through shit ALL the time, but in the spirit of being semi-transparent I thought that it was appropriate to admit that I’ve been going through a particularly tough time lately. Internally it has been such a struggle to deal with my circumstances and personal relationships. So much so, that I couldn’t even be creative and work for the last month. I suppose that it’s been an on-going thing, but I’ve been able to manage it for the most part. Some days are easier than others but it was still relatively easy to remain optimistic either way. However during about the last 6 months, it has become increasingly difficult. Probably the best way that I can describe it is to call it an existential crisis. Sure, not that big of deal…

The reasons and the triggers for such a period for me are plentiful and taxing, so I won’t go too far into that, but I will say that a large part of what I’ve been feeling is frustration, confusion, annoyance and perhaps even displacement at this point. I think it’s directed towards everything: people, the country and the world at large, my immediate surroundings and circles of influence, myself, and my experiences in Reno, NV for the last 4 years or so. You name it, the list goes on. I really just want things to chill the fuck out for a damn minute. Moving across the country and getting acclimated to a completely new environment and people was change enough for a while. I know that that transition was important and necessary so I don’t have much to gripe about in that area, but just when I thought I was conquering that, it seemed like I was immediately dumped into a totally new and even more difficult transition. This time instead of a geographical change, it’s been an internal one. One that seems to have been lasting for a few years now. Perhaps all of this is a part of some drawn out process of becoming a new version of myself, and as the older aspects of me die out they conflict with who I’m becoming now. It’s a thought. I don’t really know, which could be part of the problem too. Or maybe none of this means anything at all and it’s just stupid made up bullshit that I’m overthinking because of empty, self-serving ideals or who the hell knows why. Either way, I’m just paying attention, taking notes and riding it out. I also turned another year older last week (I’m 33!), which is an event that always sends me into a period of intense self-reflection anyway. Though I have to say that this year I’m finding myself in the deepest and most scathing evaluation of just about every aspect of my life and who I am as a person. Everything is on the table for me to scrutinize and sort out. I have these check-ins with myself pretty regularly, because above all I want to make sure that I’m square with myself, fuck everything else. But this current self-evaluation has been really hard to get through because of what I’m discovering. So many shifts, for better or worse. I’m still deciding on where I land with it all.

Ever since I’ve been in this new city, it seems like I have absolutely no barrier. If nothing else, it’s made me realize what a bubble DC is and other places like it. Out here I feel so…exposed? I also feel equally visible and invisible, which is probably related to being a black female in a relatively small, mostly non-black space. Fuck, that’s a topic that opens up a whole other can of worms, but I digress… I have been observing, absorbing and feeling almost everything around me very deeply and intensely – which at times can also make it hard to figure out what to filter or ignore. That feeling was the root of where my Hemorrhage series started and it’s a feeling that has persisted throughout my time here in Reno. I’m sure it’s a subject that permeates through all of my art in some way, if one were to sit down and connect it all. For the last few years I’ve felt like I’ve been flailing, trying to find some kind of anchor or consistency amongst everything that’s swirling around me and within me. Maybe that concept doesn’t really exist, because everything is liable to change at any moment and none of us “belong” anywhere. Maybe this whole time I’ve been chasing shadows, searching for answers that lead to nothing anyway. Well at any rate, the world keeps on spinning, right? I still have to get up everyday and be a person. I’m still some kind of a working artist, and work needs to be created and released into the world. So in the midst of all this anguish, I’ve been trying my best to keep up with Life. Unfortunately there was one painting that got caught in the mess and I can’t view it in a positive light. I just really hate it so much:

traci l turner, art, painting, color, hearts, human heart

“Caca” by Traci L. Turner

It can only be described as the physical manifestation of my discontent. I was stuck on this piece for months, having no idea of what was wrong with it or how to fix it. It had all started out so well, I thought. I don’t know where I went wrong. This painting went through many color changes over the months. I even had to scrape out some color to start over completely in some areas:

traci l turner, art, painting, human heart

First attempt

traci l turner, art, painting, human heart

Third or fourth attempt

At one point I was so confused and pissed about it that I just stopped working on it altogether. I usually never set aside an unfinished project like that. It bothers me too much. But this time, trying to force a solution was what ate at me the most so I left it alone. Coincidentally I spiraled even further into a pit of despair soon after. So perhaps taking a break from all kinds of work was for the best anyway.

Reading some of that back, I can certainly see some parallels between the progression of that painting and whatever I’m currently experiencing in my life. Which I’m sure is exactly why I hate that fuckin painting so much. I can accept and admit that I’m probably projecting and/or being too sensitive or dramatic, and that there’s probably nothing inherently wrong with the painting. At the same time though, fuck that piece.

Well, at least now I can say that it’s finished and I can feel free to work on other projects. It’s not in the corner of my workspace side-eyeing me and burning a hole in my brain at the thought of knowing that I haven’t figured it out. So that’s something, I guess.