Maritza Ruiz-Kim

Artist, San Francisco Bay Area

ProGRESS

ProGRESS

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. 

This is a partial view of the Progress series as it appeared on June 17, 2017. The paintings can be viewed individually as well as part of this installation, which documented the various stages of each painting