Monday, February 15, 2010

Autobiography or Memoir?



Recently while working in my studio, I listened to a Bob Edwards podcast in which he interviewed the author Tobias Wolff. Wolff, as you may know, wrote This Boy’s Life: A Memoir. Wolff and Edwards ruminated on the difference between “autobiography” and “memoir,” Wolff stating that the former is writing based predominantly on research and the latter mostly from whatever is within the author’s own memories. I appreciated that Wolff said that everything a writer creates comes partly come from her perspective no matter what her discipline.

Hearing this interview just then was timely as I had just finished a couple of new pieces in which I added more blatantly a bit of autobiography (or is it memoir?) into them: “Growing Up In Bakersfield” and “Nursery Rhyme.” As you will see here, both of them contain images of me as a young child, and yes, Bakersfield was my home town and childhood backdrop. Never quite feeling like I fit I there, I used to joke that I was switched at birth. Finally I recognize that there are large parts of my character that bloomed there, and I am no longer hesitant to admit them nor feel a need to hide them in my artistic expressions.

Hm. Now it will be interesting (for me) to look at each new piece and ask myself, Autobiography? Or, Memoir? And just what is the distinction in the visual arts? Whether it is a blatant representation (such as incorporating my own image) or simply knowing that whatever I create comes from my soul anyway?

P.S. These images can be seen 17" x 22" at the "Fresh Faces" show which runs until February 27 at Gallery House (see previous post).

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