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  • Writer's pictureThomas Tran

'Server' Piece, additional context+intention!

Piece Name: Server

Time Period and Concurrent Personal Experience (context): Late May 2023 - Late August 2023.

What has been going on in my life at the time:

  • finished piece for my first gallery show that took 2 months to do

  • started working as a server. Have always wanted to.

  • bought a car I couldn’t afford on my own

Feeling lost after a big event. What do I want to do with my life now? How can I create a life that is worth living? I keep getting lost in the sauce of thought. Worry, especially about what is the best thing I can do with my life and avoiding making the wrong decisions. A quote I heard from someone on ticktok: “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Fantasy, especially about how nice it would be if I fell in love with someone and all my problems no longer mattered and I’d never feel lonely again. Life would feel like an adventure again if I lived in my car again, or if I sold everything and started to travel abroad right now. I would probably meet kindred spirits. There is a lot to learn when your environment changes, but is it a true salve to whatever it is you’re seeking? Pain is integral to the unfolding story of your self. How much of life is avoiding pain and seeking pleasure? The theater of the mind/ battlefield of the mind/ cycle of drama or emotion. Are we condemned to this process for life? Isn’t that quite sad? We are in pursuit of freedom. This freedom is already available to us. Why is it so hard to be there?

Process, Intent, and Symbolism:

The beginning of a piece is sort of just brain dumping all my thoughts until I get to the point where I say "what's the point in trying to figure out what to make??" and then just start right on the paper. This all feels incredibly pointless/full circle, but also very helpful because I scrub away any airs inspired from "what should be" or expectations on what is good art; any contrive-ness. So I can jump into the blank page as open as I can be...

Here is what some of those brain dump pages look like:

I'd like to think the banal/trivial/low-self-esteem-make-me-look-important bullshittery floats away and only the important irreducible stuff lingers.. but who knows. I'd also add that I do artist pages a lot of the time before getting into drawing too - that is an hour/3 pages of stream of conscious writing.

Here is an example of the next stage where I just make random marks in a rectangle until something pops out.

This is a very meditation-like practice where I try to remain open and notice the moments when my mind contracts and tries to make something out of what it sees. I try to do this until my mind makes something that I feel is genuinely interesting and then I expand on that topic. This technique is a combination of automatic drawing and free association.

The picture above I took from the preliminary of another piece ( the 'frame' piece). Unfortunately I didn't take an early shot of this piece. A lot of the time these pieces don't really become anything so I hardly even bother shooting a picture. But for the 'Server' piece I remember distinctly being drawn to the two nubs that looked like horns and building out from there.

Sorry for the sizing. You'll have to zoom in.

This is basically the process of most of the personal Bubba Story pieces I've done over the past year. I spend about an hour every day working on one until they're done and then move onto the next. I find personalizing the piece to my everyday life + thoughts make making art more meaningful and enjoyable for me, plus the inclusion of automatic drawing and free association practices. I wanted to share all this because it's something I've always wanted to and I think there is a lot that isn't said from just the piece alone. Also, over time, I've found the stories behind the pieces I see tend to be more interesting than the art itself. And I hope that's been the case for you.


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