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On Paul as a Sculptor
If you ever see him work, it’s fluid. It’s not methodical. It’s not like he has a method. It’s much more free, in the way he actually wields his scissors. Very free form, in my mind. I think that’s artistic because he’s responding to the situation at the moment. So that’s why I think I’ve always gotten the best haircut I could get because he’s in the present moment with my hair. It’s like he goes into a material. In sculpting you go into the shape of the clay. He goes into the shape of the hair and the face. He’s very attuned to that. I’ve been with Paul for 12 years, so I’m aging with Paul. So he knows how to work with that.
Intelligence isn’t mental only. It’s physical. It’s kinesthetic. It’s a wide range of senses.
On Performance Art
It’s distinguished from theater in the sense that it came out of the visual arts. The idea was to use your body as material. At the time it was a rebellion in some ways to art becoming a commodity. I came out of the visual arts in performance back in the 80’s. There was a move towards trans-disciplinary/inter-disciplinary performance. There were people drawing from sound and music and dance and theatre and sculpture. My background is as a visual artist but in the form of live art. It’s working with people.
On Her Last Piece Based on the Work of Charles Reznikoff
I work with temporary communities of people, so bringing together artists to make a performance, that, most recently in the last 5 years, is to explore histories that have been ignored. An example is a poet called Charles Reznikoff who worked in the early 20th century, with testimonies of people from all over the US. Reznikoff was a fairly well known poet, but his day job was as a legal assistant. He gathered all these testimonies of all these voices of the unheard around labor accidents. It’s a portrait of the 20th century. Immigration, racism etc. I have a performance company, it’s called Every House Has a Door. Right away it’s not “Lin Hixson”, it’s Every House Has a Door. My partner in life and creative activities, the two of us, Matthew Goulish and I run that company. With each project we work with a new group of people. The Reznikoff project has a rock band in it called Joan of Arc, which is a local, fairly well known band in Chicago. Tim Kinsella, he’s now 40, I think. He’s been playing since his early 20s with different permutations of bands. But Joan of Arc is one of them and one of the more well known ones. Joan of Arc was part of this piece. There was a choreographer, but also wonderful actor, who read the testimonies of Charles Reznikoff. He was in it. And there was an installation artist who works with objects. So we had these three points of view on Reznikoff’s work of these testimonies. We did an album with Joan of Arc. This was a live performance that existed with these three elements. It was bringing together music and text in the form of the poetry as testimony. And then it brought together almost a kind of Buster Keaton who was silently working with these objects, setting up these things that would fail. It was an hour and half piece. There was a very loud song cycle from the rock band opposed to this person moving around doing these visual things with objects, very quiet. And then the testimonies in between.
On the Accessibility of Art
People are really smart. I don’t even know how to be ‘accessible’ unless I was going to choose a form I thought was accessible based on popular culture, I suppose. I want to appeal to intelligence, at least that’s what I would be interested in. Intelligence isn’t mental only. It’s physical. It’s kinesthetic. It’s a wide range of senses. Our work is not like we have thousands of people. The work is designed for 100 people to see at a time. It’s just the scale of it. Each artist has to figure out what this word is, ‘accessibility’. I can’t generalize about it. For me, I don’t think about accessibility. I do think about generosity instead of accessibility so that would be the word I would substitute.
On her Artistic Goals
One of the missions of Every House Has a Door is also to work with emerging artists as well as established artists. Everybody comes with their different kind of methodology. Each piece does demand a different kind of approach. Generally we’ve been working with artists, recently with poets who we feel are ignored. We’re working now with Jay Wright, who’s an African American poet. He’s 80 years old. He’s a very difficult poet. But he’s got this small play for 3 matadors in the middle of a poem and we’re working with this matador play. That involves dance and involves movement in a way that we’ve had to study the bull fights. Everything demands something different.
On Teaching at SAIC
The Art Institute is a very special place in the sense of it being faculty driven and the students are just great, so much fun. They’re so interesting! They’re art students and they really keep me on my toes. To teach them, I have to learn from them. It’s really like a conversation. I feel that teaching is so rounding in the sense that making art, being in this conversation of being an artist, be in this conversation with a student, it gives a perspective to me on the changing role of the artist in society. Since I’ve been working since the end of the 80s, those roles keep changing of how the artist is being defined. That is defined by the artist but it’s in relation to others, in relation to the cultural context of society.
On Making Money With Your Art
One of the things about being in art school, we teach ways of thinking as much as making a product. I think that’s something that’s really a benefit for their marketability. I have no problem with people making money from their work. I think that’s fine. I’m not a purist. It’s just that we, dealing with poetry and performance, are not making a lot of money. That’s probably the least profitable.