How do you feel when you make art?

Wow… it seems to change every time I enter its domain. I have the opportunity to make functional art where I am recording or learning material for a class or performance or I am creating spontaneously because I sampled a cool sound or effect and want to modify it up, down or around; or maybe, I have a lyrical idea that is circling around my head that needs to be freed. At times all of these scenarios flow like Niagara Falls and it’s unstoppable; other times it’s like molasses flowing… uphill! I recognize value in all of these but it can be difficult to tell in the moment. I am usually fitting my art-making in between other commitments such as family, teaching, the general admin of being freelance as well as appreciation of other artists’ work. This sometimes pushes it into late hours when I’m feeling least creative but can be a grand finale to arduous day. In the last month, I created a DJ set out of MIDI video game themes, channeled my thoughts on quarantine into an up-beat ditty & have been improvising multi-effects on the sound of twisting tightly-wrapped plastic around a bottle. All very different… but all giving me an outlet for my ideas whether they be serious or whimsical.

What is your superpower?  How do you use it as a Teaching Artist? 

My ACTUAL superpower is curiosity. Whether it’s 1) dabbling in a technical concept that I can barely wrap my head around 2) learning about art that I don’t immediately connect with but want to add to my creative vocabulary or 3) inquiring about an acquaintance’s interests… or shoes, I am curious! I tend to talk to people, even strangers, about things. Sometimes I slightly regret it, but mostly not. I like to listen to stories and opinions that add to my understanding of the world. I feel like there’s no conversation or piece of information that leads to a dead end.

This shows up in my interactions with students constantly. If a student tells me something they are interested in – games, food, shows or sports, I sincerely ask for more details… this is my chance to really get an intimate understanding. This tends to influence the direction of workshops or classes that I teach. I will revise my approach, not always the content, but come at it from a different angle. I will not pretend to like something but I also do not put it down. I will inquire to get more information. This is why teaching in the hospital is such a treat. Lots of conversations with lots of students of all ages and backgrounds is a constant revision of my outlook.

Lenny’s Home Studio

What has been the most surprising thing for you about working remotely?

There are no surprises, only days… & longer (& sometimes shorter) days. I realize how much a clear blue sky can affect my mood. I am surprised how much I (mostly) enjoy being home. I don’t g-chat or zoom too eloquently, but I do get a thrill out of changing my Zoom backgrounds. Small victories are a huge feat like finishing a online tutorial or checking off a list of schoolwork sent by teachers, so it’s all relative.

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