Drawing on the anxieties inherent in art-making, This is Killing Me brings together eight artists who in their diverse practices make palpable a distinctive sense of unease about their identities as artists and the creation of their work. Although professional anxiety is common in all fields, artists often explore and harness these fears into central and driving themes. The artists in this exhibition point to a divide between the coolness and deft craftsmanship of their works and the apprehension and angst that went into their making. The amusing, often riotous quality of the pieces underscores this tension.
The artists in This is Killing Me, Whitney Bedford, Karl Haendel, Andrew Kuo, Sean Landers, Kalup Linzy, Shana Lutker, Marco Rios, and Joe Zane, maintain practices grounded in self-reflection, portraying in their work the apprehensions and dilemmas of the their process. Present in much of the work are deep feelings of inadequacy-the artist plagued by the idea that she or he is not good enough, hard-working enough, or famous enough (and never will be). Some of the work unveils the sources or lack thereof of the artist’s inspiration laying bare the unending pressure to develop meaningful and original ideas. Other work gives shape and form to the creative process, pointing to the labor, the hand of the artist, and accompanying procrastination entailed in making art. Ultimately, many of the pieces derive content from an engagement with psychoanalysis and a mining of one’s own unconscious and psyche. The works presented, far from becoming cathartic votives, are embodied monuments to the complexities of artistic practice.
In contrast to the popular mythology of the studio as a site of inspired genius, these artists depict the studio as a space of always difficult labor, laced more with self-doubt than triumphant brilliance. Part and parcel of the pervasive uncertainties of economic distress, war, and environmental collapse that define our moment, the works in This is Killing Me reveal the specific anxieties of artists in these generally anxious times.