Thursday, February 24, 2011

Amanda Hinchey Reflects on the Kenan Fellowship

Despite all of the stress that I inflicted on myself over the course of the Fellowship, I can honestly say that I have been able to find more happiness in the work that I am focusing on here in NYC. There is much more of an overall feeling of hope, whereas before I tended to feel completely depressed whenever I thought of all of the goals I wanted to accomplish. With all of the time that has been allotted for me to simply focus on myself and my art-making, along with the self-reflection inspired by the process of Aesthetic Education, I am becoming much more comfortable in expressing my opinions on works of art, as well as making decisions in my own creative process. It has also helped shift the way that I communicate with other people, by providing a safe environment where I’m given the chance to practice being more vocal in discussions of art or any other subject. In all parts of my life, from creating art to writing or having a conversation, it has always been my way to think thoroughly before I act, so that whatever comes out is as close to perfect the first time around. Being a part of this Fellowship has allowed me to try thinking out loud more often, and being okay with the notion of coming up with many different ideas and then working with those ideas to see which is best. It has allowed me to explore the grey area of the process between the question and finding the answer.

Going through this Fellowship has also given me ample time to focus on my skills at networking, which I believe will be one of the most important tools for me in continuing with what I have started to build as a result of this experience. I have always had difficulty with reaching out to people for help, whether it is artistically, professionally or personally, but this experience has truly shown me how difficult it is to accomplish anything in this city on your own. This is something that I never fully appreciated, even though much of what I have done in the city was the direct result of successful networking. Currently, it is still a challenge for me to even work up the courage to email another person, and because of this hesitation, which kept me from responding immediately to certain situations, I began to create a great deal of unnecessary stress. This is something that I feel I have improved on, but will still being working on for long after the Fellowship. As part of the process of putting our final shows together, we have had to rely a lot on the kindness of others because of our limited budget, and none of that would have been possible were it not for the personal connections that we have made both in and outside of this Fellowship. Because of this, I have become more at home with the idea that going forward from here it will be necessary to ask people for help at times, as they will undoubtedly be asking me for help, as well.

I’m extremely grateful to have had so much exposure to the process of aesthetic education, and I know that it has made a lasting mark on how I view art and the world in general. The aspect of this process that has directly affected me the most is the Capacity of “Living with Ambiguity”. It is something that I and many of my friends who work in the arts seem to struggle with, and yet it is vitally important to survival in this city. There needs to be a certain amount of trust within ourselves that we will be able to accomplish what it is that we are setting out to do, and that there is no point in trying to control what will happen in the future. It is impossible to do so, and trying to will only result in more pain and stress. I used to feel as though it was my worrying and nervous energy that made sure that I never became lazy or complacent, and now I can see how much that misplaced energy was holding me back because of all the anxiety it created. After this Fellowship has come to an end, it will be important for me to continue to build that trust in myself, and “Living with Ambiguity” as to what the future holds will be a huge part of the process of continuing to build that trust.

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