Saturday, March 5th, 2011
I’ve just come back from a month at the Vermont Studio Center. Founded by artists in 1984, the Studio Center is now the largest international artists’ and writers’ residency in the United States. Every month, around forty painters, sculptors, photographers, and other visual artists, along with a dozen or more writers set up for work in the Center’s light-filled studios and congregate in the Red Mill for delicious meals, conversation, and guest lectures from visiting artists.
One of the most fascinating and inspiring aspects of this residency, for me, was the opportunity to get to know a number of visual artists, to see them at work in their studios, and to listen to them talk about their process. On a snowshoe hike one afternoon we discussed artistic self-doubt. I had been writing an essay on the subject. Mostly, I thought of self-doubt as an obstacle or an enemy. Something to be beaten. And that is mostly the way we spoke about it. But somehow, as a result of our conversation, I began to wonder if there might be a hidden value in self-doubt. I spent the next few days exploring that idea. And the essay became a very different piece than it might have been, if not for their influence.