The Art of Figuring It Out

While passing the time this morning before departing for work, I grabbed a book from a pile that I probably haven’t paged through since I was 17. The treatise I seized was Sabrina Ward Harrison’s Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. When I was in high school, this was pretty much my bible; I consulted it as artistic inspiration and clung to her scribbled sentences as if they were my lifeblood. [1] But looking through her work this morning, I found a different appreciation for her “spilled” collages where I cling to her words in a different way. The messy, sort of sloppy pages unfold as a journal revealing experiences of a young twenty-something trying to figure it all out. Whereas the 17YO me gravitated towards the “be yourself” attitude, the 24YO gravitates towards the whole godi’mjusttryingtofigruethiswholeadultthingoutbutomgwhatdoidohowoldamiwhenwillifiguethisout sentiment, very similar to the whole sort of attitude of HBO’s Girls, which I am currently obsessed with. Her art[2] is slightly kitsch in a sort of nice way that I like in the combination of photos and watercolor but also, like, tape and so-ugly-it’s-cute[3] ribbons. You can definitely feel the confusion of being that age in her art which is nicely expressed. Sabrina Ward Harrison currently practices her art and also teaches classes and speaks about “the Art of Becoming Yourself”[4] which is an interesting way to make a career. I think I am mostly still attracted to her work because it’s nostalgic for me, but what do you think? Do you think it’s a conglomeration of masterpieces or kitschy cool?

She was ahead of her time: shooting a selfie with that camera. That’s dedication.

[1] Once you read her work, you’ll probably realize I was quite feely and full of emotion as an adolescent.

[2]Like her apartment

[3] In Yiddish, the word for this is mies or you could call something (usually someone) a meeskite.

[4] Also the subtitle to her first book, see above.


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