For this Summer Session we’re thinking about going Back to School, and today from our friends at BOMB Magazine we bring you Jeremy Sigler’s interview with Joanne Greenbaum. In it, Greenbaum and Sigler talk about the problem with teaching as an artist, the value (or lack thereof) of crits, and their ongoing love affair with academically out-of-vogue modernism and its tenets of originality, authenticity, and revelation. This interview was originally published in BOMB Issue 124, Summer 2013.
Joanne Greenbaum: As artists we fantasize about interviews. For instance I’m working and I think, If someone were interviewing me right now, this is what I would say—and it’s really eloquent and perfect and beautiful. But then you’re never able to say those things.
Jeremy Sigler: But the things that come out in a conversation are often more accurate. Maybe they’re not the fantasy, but they’re more useful.
JG: We think we’re better in fantasy than we are in real life, but maybe in real life we’re better.
JS: I’m really down on critique right now. I’ve turned the corner and it’s gone from pure love to pure rage. Why should I teach like a real teacher when the students are not learning like real students?
JG: I’m teaching one day a week in Philadelphia to grad students this term. The first day I got in there I realized I have nothing to say to these students at all! I have nothing to give them. I don’t even really have an opinion about their work. And, I still get home at the end of the day totally exhausted. I’ve been giving them something, but it isn’t critiques.
Lately, more and more people have asked to come to my studio, but I don’t want anyone else in my studio. Because, number one, I ultimately don’t care what people think about what I make and, number two, I’m tired of explaining it. I’m tired of talking about my process. I want to keep everything inward and reverential. Sometimes all I want to do is sit here at this desk and make watercolors—here’s the pile—and just be private and kind of not thinking at all.