Is this “progress” a noun, a destination? Or is it a verb, a process of discovery, a focus on movement and a hope for the future? This series was a participatory way of me asking if progress is something achieved or if it is instead something experienced on a continuum. I started these paintings just after November 8, 2016. Although it’s a date that is understood nationally as the day the 45th President of the United States was elected, for me personally, it was a date that I received difficult health news about my eldest son. As conversations revolved around next steps as a nation, my thoughts turned to next steps as a parent. The feelings of shock, fear and concern were magnified for me.
As I painted over the next several months, I thought about these paintings individually but also as part of the whole experience of “making progress”. I photographed the paintings at various stages, then later hung the in-progress prints alongside the completed paintings themselves. While I did work to finish and perfect the paintings in my eyes, I had every intention of adding each to the exhibition whether they were finished or not. This was the performative/experiential part of the exhibition for me. I hung the work from left to right, beginning with Progress #1, which I considered at that point the most finished painting, through to Progress #9, which I considered the least finished. The installation documented various stages of each painting, making my changing state of mind public as I continued to paint. I purposely hung several in an unfinished state as a way of asking several questions: “Is this progress?”, “Do I have to arrive at perfection or can I just keep striving for it?”, “Can I embrace the uncomfortableness of being unfinished by being willing to ‘come as I am’?”, “Can I admit to others what I think is missing in my work?”, “Can we admit to each other what is missing in ourselves?”
Instead of focusing on arriving at a perfect finish, I wanted to share determination to keep progressing even when the end point is unclear.