In 2016 / 2017 I began the practice of putting black ink repeatedly to paper, making simple patterns. Originally, this was purely a soothing hobby, without the intent to create artwork. As I became obsessed with layering these marks, larger patterns and complex compositions emerged. Although mostly abstract on the surface, every drawing is highly representative of a moment in time for me: the physical and metaphysical. The artwork is a meditative purging, practice to expel internal energy into the world. I’ve noticed that if I don’t engage in this sort of activity I become clouded and frustrated. After I’ve created one of these drawings (or any creation), I enjoy having little to no attachment to it. When I view my own pieces, it’s almost like viewing something created by another person. Self-identity is, perhaps, inherent in an artist’s creations. With my work, I have the opportunity to release my self-identity. Through focusing on the action of making, I can remove a distinct ‘sense of self’; I imbue the paper with a unique moment and imprint it with whatever ‘I’ may be. Although I happen to fall into certain socio-cultural categories such as ‘queer,’ ‘POC,’ and ‘androgynous,’ I don’t have much desire to dwell on or present them directly. I’ve found that the more I focus on those identities, the more unpleasant limitations and expectations weigh me down. So, in a way I’m focused on allowing for a ‘non-self,’ through what I create.
There is usually some thought or mention of ‘the void,’ which for me is a state of being. A state with no good or bad, but somewhere that my ‘self’ can be poured into and dissolved. With that comes thoughts of (sacrifice) giving up a moment of life to create something, and (obsession) the intense dedicated focus required to technically complete a piece. These creations have been a means of channeling and working with my psychological and philosophical selves. As events unfurl in my life, I have been compelled to draw or create as a way to release feelings around those events. Personally, I find it difficult to socially communicate the multitudes of what occurs within. I am human, so no matter what some part of me is compelled to communicate with others. Yet, it seems much easier to create something that contains some trace of those internal messages. I’m not attached to whether or not someone understands and receives those messages, but simply to release them out and away is enough. Within my life, although I have avoided certain struggles, I have experienced enough hardship to have an understanding of suffering. Suffering is not exclusively physical, mental and emotional suffering can have just as much presence. This is a thread that I’ve noticed runs through my work. Not moping over the suffering that one has endured, but instead trying to work with the feelings in human suffering, either my own or others. Being motivated by and encouraged to process in order to absorb it. In some abstract way, I find that I can give knowledge or feeling about these experiences through what I create. The artwork is, actually, quite hopeful. At least, it’s not wholly negative / dark. This is similar to the way that Death is mistaken as a purely negative force. Death makes room for Life. They go together; they require one another. Death is not pleasant, nor is it meant to be. However, you can still respect it, as a force in the world giving room for Life to continue. I gladly process that which is difficult, so that I can make room to constantly move on. That line of thought is part of the process of giving myself to ‘the void,’ which I do so willingly.
"reaching out alone"
"enter the void"
"let in, let go"
"at the root"
SKY SPEIR was born on the West Coast of the United States and grew up on the East Coast while traveling to Europe and back with family. There is Irish, Belgian, African-American, Creole, culture in his blood. Being of mixed-race heritage and witnessing the distillation of all those cultures has greatly influenced his thoughts and creations. It doesn’t matter if he focuses on that concept directly, for it is inherent in his experiences. By education, he has been a graphic designer, but has also worked as a cook, baker, dishwasher, and various other roles. As long as he can remember, his head has spun with ideas of creation. Paintings, films, illustrations, books, and all kinds of artwork have massively influenced his psyche and outlook on life. Manga by Junji Ito, Katsuhiro Otomo...Films by Tarkovsky, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Gaspar Noé...Writing by Yukio Mishima, Jorge Luis Borges, Albert Camus, Max Blecher...Paintings by Artemesia Gentileschi, Goya, Kahlo, Séraphine Louis...Islamic artwork...folk-art patterns...(briefly) psychedelic visuals...anatomical drawings...so much music...so many others from childhood until now, to name a few.
He was drawn in by detail and texture before any meaning or symbolism affected him with visual art. This included oil paintings because of the thick, structural effect of the paint when peered at closely; the detailed ink work because of how the shading and specks looked close up as a boy. Many times, artwork he loved was what brought a true sense of excitement and release for him. His hope is to be able to produce even just one piece that will have the same effect on someone else. Personal expression is important to him, but it is the possibility that his work could deliver something to another, that drives him in a particular way he doesn't always fully understand. Despite his love of artwork, he often struggled in his youth to finish many of his own creative projects, being overwhelmed with too many ambitions and schemes. Additionally, he could never reach the perfect images within his head, so he scrapped many projects, without even showing certain things to his parents. Now, he's discovered how crucial creation is to his own mental and emotional well-being. So, he continues to spin with ideas of creation.
Any act of making is a way for him to commune with the psychological and philosophical selves. Thematically, life, death, anxiety, cycles of rebirth, paradox, superimposition, spiritual release, alienation, isolation, intuition, androgyny, ‘non-self,' and the pursuit of excellence have all been present for him. Whether he pursue these motifs directly or not, they show themselves constantly, and he has learned to embrace them in order to learn and integrate. He does not know where his life will be, or where his life is going, but he seeks to approach living with strength. As he does that, he knows that he will always be filled with the desire to create. At this point in time, that is who he knows himself to be.