On Wednesday, I visited the NY Society Library, bought a day pass, and began assembling my thesis. My thesis is something I have been calling the shell of my book, but when I say the word shell I don’t mean an eggshell, where everything is neat, suspended, and contained within a thin, fragile layer, I mean the other kind of shell. A conch or maybe a broken piece of coral, where the elements can flow in one way and flow out another.
As I sit at a table on the fifth floor of this library, assembling the parts and pieces of this shell—my shell-that’s due to my advisor in less than a month, I realize how fully addicted I am to the float-feeling: the feeling that some writers call being in “the zone”, where after I finish tweaking a word, or restructuring a sentence, or writing a memory, I have forgotten where I am for a moment, where everything around me has fallen away and it’s just me and the edges and curves in front of me. And then, as soon as I realize I feel disoriented, my surroundings rush back. I am again inside the room among other writers on the fifth floor with the sun casting a glow on the wood table and the white noise of the shuffling of papers and the tap-tap-tapping of keys.
I’ve been following Brooklyn photographer Andre Wagner on Instagram for a while now. I don’t remember how I found him, but I think his photos are spectacular. Much of what he posts are high contrast, black and white photos he’s taken of humans being human. When I describe his photos to friends, I call it street photography, but to me, the photos are so much more than that. When I look at his photographs, I feel a connection to each one of his subjects. He has a book, too.
Reading that Art Forum write-up reminded me that advertisers steal from artists—not the other way around. It reminded me that anything can be commoditized, and anything sold by an artist of color is viewed as less valuable. The best art is art that holds traditionally-held beliefs to task. The best art is political.
PS – Some photos of the Jefferson Market Library in case you’ve never been. It’s something special.