Closeup Image of polished vintage wood flooring at CFPA - Center for Performing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Works in Progress: Blog Post #2, Emily Rose Duea

Each Works In Progress Resident will contribute several blog posts over the course of their residency. This second post addresses the artist’s experience during the residency, and their progress on their work.

Emily’s project explores identity after healing from trauma.

Details about the presentation on April 20th and 21st: HERE.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely those of the artist.

– CFPA Mpls

Content Warning: language

Show Up and Suck: How the Creative Process is Like Practicing Failure

I don’t care who you are, at some point your art sucked. And thank God for that.

Can you imagine if there were no such thing as revisions? As edits? As second drafts? Either the world would be full of really zany inventive things (and much too many of them) or the world would be filled with predictable, digestible art. The kind of art that comes packaged in the frame you want to fill with something else. The kind of art that doesn’t question or take risks. Art that is not vulnerable to me is not really art. And I think when we allow ourselves to say “that was a bad idea, let me try again” we are really saying “I’m willing to be vulnerable with myself and others.” That’s pretty fucking cool.

I once read a tweet that said that an average person should compete in every Olympic event for reference. I can’t help but think about that when it comes to art. That every Monet should have an original Charlotte (age 4) next to it, or after every Kerouac there should be the manuscript of whatever midwestern dad is going through a midlife crisis this week. Or for every hilarious tweet by a celebrity, we read the comments. [No, never read the comments.]

I forget… who said that funny tweet about the Olympics?

Oh shit, it was Bill Murray.

So even Bill Murray, someone occasionally referred to as THE Bill Murray, has created something that was in some way forgettable. That took on a life of its own and was remembered by some queer twenty-something in Saint Paul (me.)

The point I’m trying to make it that art is hard. You think you’re making something special and amazing and you ARE making something special and amazing, but it will only be special and amazing for five minutes. After 5 minutes, it has just about as much relevance as a Bill Murray quote. Are the Olympics still even happening? I don’t even know.

There is some freedom in the fleeting experience of art. You make something, people like it, then you make something else, YOU like it, and the cycle continues. But what if it’s not good?

In the same way that I wish we had some sort of reference for greatness, I hope to create a piece that blurs the difference between performance and creation. As an actor and creator, I spend so much time trying, failing, making, destroying, imagining, journaling, researching, talking, hiding, sharing, scrapping, etc etc until the lights come up, and the performance is shown in it’s perceived perfection. Even if an audience member doesn’t “like” it, it still is received as a finished work, done by a professional.

So what about when it’s not done? When you catch your art stepping out of the shower without a towel: exposed and not ready. Rarely do we get to see that. I am so honored that the Center for Performing Arts in Minneapolis has given me the opportunity to fail. To show up and suck. I have never shown something that has not been completely polished or at the very least finished. I hope you will join me in this conversation about vulnerability, identity, and (the scariest of all) failure.