Oklahoma Contemporary
Golden (Odyssey), 2014
An abstract landscape, rendered in illuminating gold and black, hangs on the wall of an art gallery

New Light

Aug. 10, 2020

New Ways of Looking

Bright Golden Haze artist Teresita Fernández on navigating creative life
A figure with dark, pulled-back hair looks directly into the camera
Teresita Fernández (Photo by Noboru Morikawa)

It’s been a bad year for milestones. When COVID-19 threw a curveball to the graduating seniors of the Oklahoma Contemporary Teen Arts Council, we helped them celebrate their accomplishments in style. Now, as they and other recent grads set out to navigate the world in this new normal, we thought it would be a good time to turn to Bright Golden Haze artist Teresita Fernández for a little advice on how to navigate what comes next.

In May 2013, Fernández delivered an inspiring keynote address to the graduating class of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, where she earned her MFA in 1992. Her speech, “On Amnesia, Broken Pottery, and the Inside of a Form,” is a rich meditation on creativity, perseverance and perspective.

While the speech came years before the world was turned upside down, it contains invaluable insight for anyone pursuing a creative life. “An artist’s work is almost entirely inquiry based and self-regulated,” she said. “It is a fragile process of teaching oneself to work alone, and focusing on how to hone your quirky creative obsessions so that they eventually become so oddly specific that they can only be your own.”

The beauty of brokenness is another of the speech’s major themes. Examining the Japanese art form of Kintsugi — among the original offerings in our since-cancelled slate of Studio School workshops — the artist unpacks a metaphor for the power of perspective. “We are conditioned to think that what is broken is lost or useless or a setback, and so when we set out with big ambitions, we don’t necessarily recognize what the next graduation is supposed to look like,” Fernández said.

Listen to the full audio below, and be sure to check out Fernández’ #ArtistSpotlight to learn more about the artist and her Bright Golden Haze work, Golden (Odyssey), before you’re able to experience it in person.

user231682255 · Teresita Fernandez Commencement Speech
Image: Golden (Odyssey), 2014. Gold chroming and India ink on wood panel. Collection of Allison and Larry Berg. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong and Seoul. (Photo: Alex Marks)

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