A different hand


This summer of 2018 I’m fortunate to have studio assistance from Aferro intern Yongzi Ye. This fall, Yongzi will begin her senior year as an undergraduate studying painting at RISD. I’ve had help from two studio assistants before and in both instances they shared great skill and thoughtfulness.

With Yongzi it is a little different though. Because she is studying painting, she brings that specific focus and set of interests to her work with me.

Partly for this reason it has been more challenging to consider what studio work I can ask her to tackle.

The idea that an artist’s hand must literally be the only one marking the canvas (that an authorship of touch by the individual artist is required for legitimacy) is a ridiculous-seeming cliche, something not really worth considering– yet I notice my own hesitations when I think of turning over certain processes. I can give Yongzi a direction, to work out a certain pattern, for example, and that direction will be defined in part by its endpoint. If the process is a slow one (as the ways I work often tend to be) I know that if I was doing the task myself I would have time for slow reflection, alternate decisions, adjustments of course, or even big changes along the way. If I have charged someone else with reaching that endpoint, whatever would have emerged for me on the path there won’t have occasion to happen.


But I am lately using texts in my paintings that seem very personal, that maybe threaten to be too personal (I am using narratives from my dreams.) So it seems desirable to balance that seemingly self-interested content with some distance. Maybe the marks and patterns, including some subtle decision-making, could be made by another person. Maybe it’s good if some of the dream texts I’ve been writing and embedding into the paintings are lettered by a different hand.

–Ken Weathersby

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