Escape from Studio Lockdown: Creating in the Multiverse

The best way to make a dramatic leap as an artist is to stop working. After Hilary Harkness' show at Mary Boone Gallery in 2011, she laid down her brushes for a full month and went to southern India. Personal transformation aside, she will never evaluate art the same way again.  Here are some ideas for ways to push your practice forward from the subcontinent.

Creating in the Multi-verse

Imagine yourself scratching out a living in a harsh environment, circa 500 CE. Aesthetics are not a top priority for you, and you may have never seen a painting. You are hired as a laborer and for the very first time, you are brought into a temple…and it’s like a supernatural experience.


In 1819, a British officer hunting tiger deep within the tangled undergrowth of Maharashtra discovered a series of twenty abandoned cave temples.

In the years 460 to 480 CE, the temples were simultaneously carved into the face of a cliff, most of which were monasteries and sanctuaries. Hundreds of artists seem to have been involved in the work, with possibly a fruitful rivalry between the neighboring construction sites. Many stone pillars within the temples are musical and resonate when tapped, and the acoustics have been engineered to extremely magnify the chanting of the innermost person. The surviving wall and ceiling paintings are intricate, colorful, and shocking in the sumptuous world they create.

So much of contemporary art exists to reflect, interrogate, or respond to culture. Outside a high-art context, a work of art might not have as much resonance. Art that is amusing when installed in one place becomes barren in another. 

What can you make that is like a different universe of images and ideas?....

What system of organizing your ideas will yield the most intense experience for viewers - or even suck them into another, better universe?....

Who can you hire to make it?....

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I also love cave paintings and the way Arnold Hauser describes their function in "The Social History of Art" vol. 1.