Rebekah Volinsky

A Conversation Between Two Rebekahs


ISSUE 40 | HOLD OR BE HELD | MAY 2014

What follows is the second installment of an investigation into coincidences, fate, and the significance of a name. The first in the series, An Open-Ended Interview, can be found in the Hypocrite Reader archives, here. I, Rebekah Volinsky, had many questions to ask the other Rebecca Volinsky, and when her response was not immediately forthcoming, I performed the interview anyways. She did, in fact, get in touch eventually and was happy to sit down with me.

Some thoughts first and then the transcript:

Behold

How many times, in the morning and late at night, have I stared into the mirror, pulling back the hair from my face and stretching my eyelids? I’ve lost myself, my entire personhood converging at the point of my fingernail where it scrapes my scalp. The composition of my eyes, my nose, and the little pock marks on my forehead slowly lost all sense and seemed silly all of a sudden. For years, I’ve given side-eyed glances at my reflection—who hasn’t?

Rebecca Volinsky emailed me back. My mirror all of a sudden was courteous. How long could I keep up the charade?

Not for very long. Rebecca’s laugh immediately made me bashful—but not embarrassed. When we sat down together for the first time over coffee, we both, I know, experienced a shared and rare kind of intimacy. For me, I am not sure how to understand it; is it romantic in nature or is it familial, or neither in the end? It feels like what I imagine it might feel like if my Ego ever got the chance to examine my Id and each direct question was returned with an honest and generous response. Or maybe it’d really be the other way around—my Id examining my Ego and finding some reason and some relief.

Beholden

But why is that? And is it fair to think of my relation to Rebecca in this way? Not even is it fair—is it just fancy?

There is only a hazy delineation in my mind between her herself and her as I behold her. Every email, every text message, each offer of coffee or tea is a new crossroads where the decision to behold her or be with her is laid at my feet. My impulse is to collect evidence, to document the mirror talking back. And, at once I am wary of forcing my relationship with Rebecca to be beholden to an idolized idea of her as my other, as my future self, and I have the opportunity to take down the looking glass and comb through my reflection.

In the conversation that follows, I remember feeling connection—but that was right alongside nervous chatter, the persistent thought “am I sweating too much,” a loud conversation between two middle-aged men at the neighboring table, and a soundtrack of bossa nova. The impulse to collect and archive our interactions, which at first put Rebecca on a pedestal, afforded me the opportunity to sit with my anxieties and really listen to her. I listened to the embarrassingly young ambition in my questions to her over and over again, first cringing, and then finding some relief in her laughter.

What may be obvious to some was completely out of reach for me for a long time—there’s no need to feel beholden to the primary idea of what an artist is and how she should make artwork. This conversation was permission.

* * *

Rebecca Volinsky, Rebekah Volinsky
March 4, 2014

 

REBEKAH: If I met him for the first time on the phone, I would have the impression that he was an oddball—did you get that kind of impression?

REBECCA:                                            Yeah        Yeah        But, umm

REBEKAH: So it took you a half an hour to realize that, for him to realize that you weren’t me?

REBECCA: Initially, so we’re talking on the phone and I’m thinking, “I must know who this person is,” umm, like if we talk long enough I’ll remember who it is

REBEKAH:                                            Mmm hmm

REBECCA: And so, we’re talking for, like, at least a half an hour, and then I realize I definitely don’t know who this person is at all, and then I say something like “I don’t think you have the right person,” whatever, we realize that I’m not the right Rebekah Volinsky, but he offers me the job anyways

REBEKAH:                                 Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                                 And then he offers me a place to stay

REBEKAH:                                 Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                                 And so, it just wasn’t good timing, or, like, it didn’t make sense for me to do

REBEKAH:                                Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                So, uh, that was just really bizarre.

REBEKAH:                  Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                   But, you were my first clue into there being, like—I bet there’s more than three, there being a lot of Rebecca Volinskys

REBEKAH: I suppose the three of us all wanting to be involved in art are probably more public than potentially other secret ones.

REBECCA:                   Yeah

REBEKAH:                                    But, it’s more charming to think of it the other way

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:          Which is that we don’t know that they exist, so they don’t exist.

REBECCA:                               Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                    And it’s just us.

REBECCA:          And then, are you related to a Robert Volinsky?

REBEKAH: Robert?

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: Mmh mmh, not that I know of, ha, ha.

REBECCA: That might be the other Rebecca Volynsky’s . . . dad? Who at one point contacted me

REBEKAH: Hmm

REBECCA:          I think by mistake

REBEKAH: I wonder—I’ve never gotten anything directed towards you or the other Rebecca

REBECCA: Yeah

REBEKAH: I think that’s bizarre that you’ve gotten all these mes—well . . . the other Rebecca that I know of spells her name with two y’s, her last name

REBECCA:                                    Wow

REBEKAH:                                    So, your email address wouldn’t even be like . . . Your email address could very well be my email address

REBECCA: Yeah

REBEKAH:        But it probably couldn’t be hers.

REBEKAH: I’m going to have to do some research into the RISD Rebecca

REBECCA:                                    Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Yeah, I heard that there was a Rebecca Volinsky that went to RISD like the year after, I don’t know, really bizarre.

REBEKAH: Well, what I think’s interesting, from what I can tell, like, you and I work in more similar mediums

REBECCA:             Yeah

REBEKAH:             Than the other Rebecca Volinsky does

REBECCA:                        What does she work in?

REBEKAH: I think she does more like collage and illustration type of drawings?

REBECCA:                                              Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: Like, more color pencil kind of thing and is interested in, like, art education, umm, and advocacy? Or something. I’m not quite sure. We, we have a mutual, umm, err, person that we know. Umm, I don’t know, I went to school, to like freshman year with this girl from Providence who turned out to be good friends with her. Umm, so, it’s been a couple years since I’ve like had knowledge of what she’s doing, but I think she went to, I think she lives in Somerville, in Massachusetts. And, I think she’s, like, getting a degree in art education.

REBECCA:                                        Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                                           Ha, ha

REBECCA:                                                          It’s so bizarre.

REBECCA: So, what’s, what is your medium?

REBEKAH: Hmm?

REBECCA: Like, what mediums do you work in?

REBEKAH: Oh. Umm, well, I guess I’m still figuring it out. But, uhh

REBECCA:                                     Yeah. Me too.

REBEKAH:                                     Ha, ha

REBECCA:                                     Ha, ha

REBEKAH: I’m, I’m definitely more, uhh, got more fingers in pies than, like, I, I draw and my senior thesis was, umm, experimental animation, so that involved drawing but it was, like, presented as a video installation, now I’m getting more into video, umm

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH:          And some photography as well, so still tryna figure out. But that’s what’s—like I, I, I’ve seen your, your website and your portfolio on that and then I went and I saw the show at A.I.R., umm, that was actually what, how I realized you were around Brooklyn and like

REBECCA:                  Mmh

REBEKAH:                         Thought about what a weird thing this is, because I, I applied for their Emerging Artist Fellowship

REBECCA:                          Okay

REBEKAH:                                  Umm, so I’m on, like, their mailing list and I saw the announcement for that

REBECCA:                          Ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                  Was like, whoa

REBECCA:                                  Ha, ha ha, ha

REBEKAH: That’s cool, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                  Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                Uhh, and then I had this really scary thought, like “oh no, what if they deny my emerging artist fellowship application because they already have shown you”

REBECCA:                                Ha ha ha

REBEKAH:                                Ha, ha, ha, but, umm, yeah, it looks like you, you paint and you draw and you do video

REBECCA:                                Yeah, I’ve been doing more, more video recently, but at RISD I studied painting and then when I did my master’s, I started doing more kind of, like, installations and video, and now that I don’t have any space to work in or as much time, I do video.

REBEKAH: Hmm

REBECCA: So it just makes more sense.

REBEKAH: Do you think you’re moving away from, umm, drawing and painting and towards video or just, or combining them all together?

REBECCA: I think

REBEKAH: Does it, does it feel like separate, like one and then the other or

REBECCA:                                          No, it feels like I’m treating video like painting, kind of

REBEKAH:                                             Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                            Like I’m approaching video as a painter.

REBEKAH: So when you introduce yourself, do you say, “I’m a painter?”

REBECCA:                                  Ha, ha, ha, ha, umm. No, I just say I’m an artist.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: It seems more fluid these days, like your medium of choice.

REBEKAH: Yeah

REBECCA: Pretty fluid.

REBEKAH: Yeah.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, umm, I hope its not uncomfortable but because of the similarities in our names and our, like, aspirations, I can’t help but feel like you are a good model for me.

REBECCA:                                             Ha, ha

REBEKAH: Umm, just because—like, in school you’re encouraged to, like, talk to artists you admire and ask them about their work and how, like, what kind of progression they went through, and it just seems like too, like too perfect to be true that, like, you, you’re at, like, that step in a career that’s farther along than I am but not unapproachable, ha, ha

REBECCA:                       Yeah

REBEKAH:                       I feel like we’re within the same peer group age-wise and I just, like, have no idea how to move for—well, not no idea. Slowly figuring out an idea, but

REBECCA: I think you’re way younger than me.

REBEKAH: I’m 23.

REBECCA: I’m 30.

REBEKAH: It’s like 7 years.

REBECCA:                       Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                  It’s not like way younger

REBECCA:                                                        Yeah

REBEKAH:                                                          I don’t feel like, umm, like we couldn’t sit down for coffee

REBECCA:                                  Of course

REBEKAH: Maybe if you were 50, that might be a little bit of a different dynamic. I might still ask that, but it would be a different dynamic, umm.

REBECCA:                       Yeah

REBEKAH:                                  But, I just, I would love to know how you went from getting your BFA to deciding to get an MFA and then like, how do you get residencies?

REBECCA:                       Woah

REBEKAH: I saw that you, you had a residency at Anderson Ranch.

REBECCA:                                               Yeah

REBEKAH: Like, was that your first residency or just one of the bigger name ones, or?

REBECCA: Umm, I went there, RISD had a program I think, like, junior or senior year, they selected a certain amount of people to go to residencies which they funded, so that was when I went to Anderson Ranch.

REBEKAH:                       Oh, wow

REBECCA:                                  And then, I recently went to, umm, a residency in Nebraska. Uhh, I kinda have like, I think I made my least interesting work in residencies, and part of the reason I went recently is just cuz I felt like, “oh, that’s what an artist does, they go on residencies, I should do this,” you know?

REBEKAH: Mmh

REBECCA: And, like, umm, and this really relates to the piece I showed at the, at A.I.R., umm, is like            do you mind if I tie this all in together?

REBEKAH: No, not at all. I’d love that.

REBECCA: Ok                       Umm, so the theme of the show is, umm, what is it called?

REBEKAH: “Womanhouse: A Roaming House,” or something?

REBECCA: “Womanhouse, A Roaming House: A Room of One’s Own Today.” Have you read, umm, “A Room of One’s Own?”

REBEKAH: No, I haven’t.

REBECCA: You really should. It’s really good.

REBEKAH: Yeah?

REBECCA: Yeah, but, umm, it’s kind of, it’s Virginia Woolf, and she’s talking about how every woman needs, like, space and time in order to be able to create, ah, writing or artwork, and so, Mira Schor, who curated this show, is kind of looking at what, umm, what that room of your own would look like today, umm, given that a lot of artists don’t have studio spaces, or maybe are working out of their homes, using this and that, so, umm, for that show, I decided to make a video piece in which I’m basically treating, like, my home and the every day as my studio. So things that I’m highlighting in the video are just, like, really mundane moments from the every day: like flushing the toilet or, like, umm, the drain of your shower, umm. Actually, I think, like, umm, my artwork in a way has been more interesting when I feel, umm, kind of this, when I feel, like, kind of a tension between, like, how mundane and constricting the every day can feel and, umm, when I’ve been on residency in these, like, amazingly rural and free, like, environments, and, umm, I don’t feel that sense of interesting grit or tension in myself. They’ve been, like, really powerful, amazing experiences, but I think that for me, like, I find that my work’s more interesting when I’m forced to find something extraordinary in just, like, the everyday—seven o’clock, turn the shower on, go to work—rather than, like, this beautiful field in, like Nebraska.

REBEKAH:            Yeah            I guess it is sort of like this artifact of a more romanticized idea of what an artist is: like, isolated, inspired by beauty

REBECCA: Yeah, so I don’t know, I think it’s interesting. I think I recently just went on a residency because I just felt like that’s what artists should do.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: And I was like, “alright, I’m going to go on a residency so I can make all this work,” and it actually just, like, disturbed so many things in my life, like I gave up my job, I did all of these things that were just kind of dumb, and so now I’m back looking for a job, ha, ha, ha, I’m like post-residency, like, I don’t know I, I found it . . .

Everyone would have a different opinion about that, though, and they’re helpful and good, but over the years, I’ve felt like the most interesting work I’ve made was just when I have a more consistent life.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm, was this past one productive? Like, did you make good work?

REBECCA:

REBEKAH: Ha! Ha! No?

REBECCA: Nooo, I mean, I worked every day but I guess I just. I, I mean, I actually, I think I, I think, is how I generally work. I think maybe the first week, I made really good, solid work because I felt just so free being in that landscape and environment

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA:            Umm, so I think I did make good work, I just pumped it out really quickly, you know. Umm. Yeah, it was just, like, kind of a different experience.

REBEKAH: Um. The show at A.I.R., so you made that piece for the show?

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: How was the, how was the show organized? Did you know the curator beforehand, or personally?

REBECCA:           Umm, I went to, she was a professor of mine in school

REBEKAH: Oh, okay

REBECCA: Yeah, so, and, I actually took, umm, like, uhh, a feminist art class with her

REBEKAH:                                  Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                                        So, it was kind of a cool thing to be able to be included in that show.

REBEKAH: And, you guys staid in touch after school? And, that’s how she knew what you were making recently?

REBECCA: Yeah, and I, I mean, I submitted my work to the show

REBEKAH:                                                        Okay

REBECCA:                                                        So I didn’t have any communication with her, like, about being in the show, or

REBEKAH:                                             Oh, cool

REBECCA:                                  I found out about it the same ways everyone else does, like, you know

REBEKAH:                                                        Okay

REBECCA: I was sort of surprised to be included. I didn’t really think, because I, I’ve applied to like a zillion things at A.I.R.

REBEKAH:                       Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                  And never gotten any of them, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: Ha ha, ha

REBECCA: So, I was really, like, I kind of just applied expecting not to get in

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: So, I was really thrilled and excited to be apart of it.

REBEKAH: Yeah, that’s a really cool gallery, like, with the women’s history aspect of it.

REBECCA: Yeah

REBEKAH: It’s like the one gallery that I know of, really

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: A starting place for me to build knowledge of, personal experience. So, would you say then, that like, I guess its just like a mystery to me personally, like, how to get shows. Like, how to get one show, and then how to get the next show, you know, obviously you can’t really be taught in school, so I just wonder

REBECCA:                       I think that, umm, like, I would recommend keeping the primary focus on your work

REBEKAH:            The work

REBECCA:                       And expanding your work

REBEKAH: Yeah

REBECCA: But, so, umm, I think a lot of that stuff is just, umm, being a part of social circles and not isolating yourself, which it doesn’t seem like you do, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: I know I’m like, umm, if I were more sort of socially, if I were more social, I would be on more shows, I think, cuz that’s how all of my peers are getting shows is by being around galleries and going to their openings and, umm

REBEKAH:                                             Mmm hmm

REBECCA: You know, so, if its, like, very important to be showing, I would be hanging out

REBEKAH: Ha, ha

REBECCA:            Going to openings, meeting people, like, doing that whole thing.

REBEKAH: Yeah. I mean, its, like, I think, last year when, after I graduated, I was very, like, gung-ho about “well, now I have my degree and I’m ready to be out there and I would like some respect from the outside world for what I did, umm, in my thesis,” and then, just like, I mean, what I did for my thesis was fine for a thesis, and like, was a big accomplishment in my life, but I think I was, uhh, too ffff-, too expectant or not, too naïve just about, like, what life after school is like

REBECCA:                                  Me, too. Me, too. I remember, like, the second I got out of undergrad I was, like, “alright let’s sell some paintings”

REBEKAH: Yeah, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, so, I think I’m, like, coming around to—or not coming around but finally realizing, like, where my perspective should be and, like, umm, digging, admitting to myself, “well, I really am very early on in the development of my process,” umm, so, I’m, I’m not, like, as crazily looking for, feeling like I need to be validated by being shown

REBECCA:            Mmm hmm

REBEKAH:            Anymore. Umm, yeah, still like piecing together, like, “this is interesting to me, I want to look into this,” and like, “how do I be principled enough to make work, but not too hard on myself that I don’t make work.”

REBECCA: Yeah. I think the hardest thing is just like            remaining            curious about life, and like, following your            knowing how to follow your own leads and interests

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA:            And, like, keep having some clarity around that while all the rest of the world continues to move and swirl and you’re working here and there

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA:            And that kind of thing.

REBEKAH: Do you think you’ve found a balance?

REBECCA: No, no, I never find a balance.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha. No, I’m still trying to find a balance. I’ve tried a lot of different, like, sort of work situations out where I’ve worked sort of 9-5 jobs and then I’ve worked a bunch of part-time jobs, and like, umm, trying to figure that out alongside making work is interesting, so I’m just going to get a job, and like, stick to it for awhile

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha. How long have you held your longest job? Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Uhh, 2 years?

REBEKAH: Oh, that’s good.

REBECCA: Is that? Its okay, its not too good . . .

REBEKAH: I think its good.

REBECCA:            Well, yeah. 2 years. Wow, that’s not a long time.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Oh, god. It was a good job, too.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, what was it?

REBECCA: I worked at, I don’t even, I don’t even know how I got this job, but, umm, I worked at, uhh, a grant-making foundation in the arts department. So, umm, that was a great job. But, then I went to grad school. So, I had to give that job up.

REBEKAH: Have—this is a personal question, but have you found that you’ve been able to work in, like, art-related jobs at the very least, or is that a goal of yours to?

REBECCA: They’ve all been art-related.

REBEKAH:                       Yeah?

REBECCA:                                  Yeah, umm, at this point I’ve worked at a museum, a gallery, a foundation, I worked in teaching. Personally, for my, just like, rhythm, I, I operate much better when my job is just like a 9-5, like consistent schedule type thing.

REBEKAH:            Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                       Cuz with more part-time work, its more like, you’re always trying to figure out, like, where the money’s coming and when its coming, and its, like, so unsettling that for me when I was in more 9-5 type things I could, you know, like, go to work and then come home and make my own work.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: Cuz last year, I worked, I didn’t work 40 hours. I was working part-time, and those were my first jobs after grad school, and I thought, “oh, well, I’m not working as many hours, I’ll have more time to make my own work,” but it, it actually felt like I had less time to myself, just cuz they were inconsistent and, umm, unstructured.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: So, but, its like, I think all this stuff, just finding your own rhythm and how you work, some people are so good at free-lancing and, like, hopping around, doing here and there, but, like, I find that its kind of helpful to be able to say to your friends, “I’m busy from 9-5 at work, and then, maybe I’m free at night,” but it, like, works different for everyone. It does.

REBEKAH: So, do you schedule, like, when you’ll be working on art? For yourself, or?

REBECCA: I will, like, once I have a job, you know what I mean? Cuz, I just have to, like, figure out how to make money again.

REBEKAH: Yeah

REBECCA: Once that happens, I will. And actually, I’m obsessed with yoga now, so it, I can’t tell if I want to do yoga or art, ha, ha.

REBEKAH: Oh, ha, ha, ha. Yoga’s great.

REBECCA: Yoga’s awesome.

REBEKAH: I got really into yoga a couple years ago, then I had an injury and it kind of, like, threw it off, so I haven’t been doing it very much, but I still remember how great it is to do a lot of yoga.

REBECCA: Yeah, totally.

REBEKAH: Ha.

REBEKAH: I’m trying to think of if there were more things I wanted to ask you. Umm.

REBECCA: Can I ask you stuff?

REBEKAH: Yeah.

REBECCA: Cool.

REBEKAH: Of course.

REBECCA: Uhh, well, just like, what interests you?

REBEKAH: In general or in art?

REBECCA: Same thing.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ok. Umm, well, right now what interests me is this weird coincidence.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: Umm, and its just like a, a, a really, umm, like, acute, uhh, example of, like, how I’m feeling about my creative process and what success means, is that you exist.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: And, umm, sorry, that’s weird to say, ha, ha. Umm, yeah, just, I guess, reflecting back, like, “ how, how do I find a career path,” or, that’s, uhh, that’s, like, a question that my dad and friends are, like, hypothetically posing to me, and I’m finding out that I can’t know that, umm, and being comfortable with that and that’s, like, my main, um, like, personal thing that I’m thinking about a lot is, umm, how to, how to move forward with the next stage in my life, and those are really personal answers, like, questions, but I’m looking to the outside world, umm, to figure that out, and, so it’s, it’s fun to, like, take from my personal experience and find theoretical or, like, more academically interesting extrapolations of that, I guess, it helps, like, me think about things. I like to think about things in an academic kind of way. Umm, what else interests me? Ha, ha

REBECCA: What do you mean you like to think about things in an academic way? You, you like theory?

REBEKAH: Yeah, but it doesn’t, like, like theory of, like, the banal is fun. Umm, yeah, so, I like theory, I think that as far as, like, my personal, like, process goes is, like, mostly thinking of, umm, like, what kind of individual artist statements would I write about each piece. You know, it’s like 90, 80 percent of the fun for me, or, like what, uhh, takes up most of my time, is, like, thinking about how to, like, construct an essay about it, um, or an argument about it. But, maybe that’s just, like, because I’ve been in school for so long and

REBECCA: I don’t, it sounds like from the very, very little that I know of you, it sounds like, umm, like this work that you’re doing or at least, like from the very little that I know, I would encourage you to think about this work that you’re doing as kind of like an explorer, umm, as part of your artistic process and that, like, all these things, and to kind of, like, take down the compartments of, like, “this is my studio, I’m, like, making, let’s say, pottery in here, and this is my editorial work and I’m writing here, and this is my statement on my artwork,” but that, that they’re all, like, really, really connected and you’re, umm, and so, kind of like, exploring what you’re doing now as apart of your artistic practice, and its probably telling that you’re making an object and you’re getting, and like, part of the art to you, umm, is in finding language to describe that object or part of the fun for you is in that, like, umm, part of the process, and that seems related to what you’re doing in, umm, interviewing folks, and like, finding these connections in the outside world, so, umm, I would think that all of those things are really, like, good pieces of information for you to have.

REBEKAH: Yeah. Yeah, I thought of the writing, the interview and the writing aspect of it as, like, that would be the performance art and then just, like, the publication, even though it was in a literary journal, that was just, I was thinking of it as that was documentation. And even when you were out of reach for a while and, umm, and then, I just wrote a piece of fiction, essentially

REBECCA:                                             Yeah

REBEKAH:                                  I was still thinking of that as documentation of a performance, which only happened in my head.

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Yeah, cool. Do you make objects?

REBEKAH: Umm, less and less.

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: I keep on trying to do, to make things that I used to make, that I used to find, umm, like interesting, was making the things. Animation specifically. I keep on trying to, like, force myself to work in that way, but its less interesting to me now, and I think I just didn’t know how to make new work, so I just kept on going back to what I had done and

REBECCA:            I’ve been there, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                  Feeling like I just needed to push myself to finish something

REBECCA:                       Yeah

REBEKAH:                                  Even though it wasn’t interesting to me, or

REBECCA: It’s, like, you know when you’re trying to replicate the past

REBEKAH:                                                        Yeah

REBECCA: And it doesn’t feel good

REBEKAH:            Yeah

REBECCA:                       And it never turns out as good as it initially did, cuz you’re not letting yourself move forward, its like your foot is stuck in the mud

REBEKAH: Yeah. I mean, it was, I, it got hard to make new work in that way, so I, like, also even though I was trying, like, to repeat my, that, with animation, I went even farther back and just, like, took pictures inst—because that seemed easier to do, umm, and that helped get me through the harder part of not knowing how to make new work just because it was giving me a result, like, pretty quickly

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: And if I just kept on doing it, then I would get more results, ha, ha

REBECCA: Yeah, and, one professor that I really liked in grad school always said, umm, “see, come—” or, umm, what’d he say? Something about how your ideas come out of, like, the process of making and not the other way around, like, oh, I think it was “thinking comes out of making, not the other way around.” So, like, if you’re just sitting around, sort of, like, thinking about what you’re going to make, its just all these useless thoughts in your head, but at least if you start interacting

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: With something, then something’s going to turn out of it.

REBEKAH: Yeah. Yeah, that was like the advice I had gotten, too, and I guess it was, just like, a year and a half of trying to make something and not really having much come out of it that felt kind of hopeless towards the end of it. I mean, its fine now, ha, ha.

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha. I think that trying that out and seeing that, that it didn’t—wasn’t fruitful for me, but I’ve found out how to start, like, I guess, being productive more. That was really necessary for me to figure out how to start being productive, was that, like, year and a half of not knowing how.

REBECCA: Ha, ha, sure. I think, I’ve had plenty of dry spells since getting out of grad school, also because its like you’re fully immersed in a practical academic studio bubble for like 2 or 4 years and then you actually get out and you see how your ideas play out in the different kind of settings, so it makes sense to have some sort of transition time or readjustment period.

REBEKAH: Are you glad that you went to grad school?

REBECCA: Yeah, I definitely am.

REBEKAH: What—what did you get out of it? Ha, ha

REBECCA: Umm, I think that my, umm                       work became a lot more closely tied in to, like, my personal narrative and experience than starting to feel less like creating external objects than, like, umm, I definitely saw, since being in grad school, I think I’ve come to understand more how art fits into my, art is a part of my everyday life and person, umm, just the boundaries for a lot of things got kind of, like, smashed.

REBEKAH: Mmh. In a good way, though?

REBECCA: Nn a really good way, yeah, definitely. I think before graduate school I wouldn’t have been comfortable, let’s say, like, not having a studio space to work in, but actually, like, I’m completely comfortable with that now.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: I feel like it, I don’t know, like making work for me doesn’t really have much to do with studio space, but its more, like, it seems more possible now to make work under any circumstance so long as I’m like curious enough.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: Which isn’t always the case, but, ha, ha, sometimes it is.

REBEKAH: Are you hard on yourself when you’re not, or is it just o-okay because you trust it will come again, or?

REBECCA: I think, I’ve become more and more trusting that it’ll come back, having, like, enough experience of, like, it almost feels like, umm, I was in a very long relationship for like, for 10 years, so

REBEKAH: Wow

REBECCA: I kind of see that and my art practice as similar in this way. When you first start, like, falling in love, like, its crazy. It feels like your whole body is tingling with this new discovery, you know? And then, and then, like, maybe that feeling can’t last completely forever, or so, it, like, dips down for a little bit

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm

REBECCA: And then, you, like, kind of fall back in love and then it dips down, you know, and like

REBEKAH: Yeah

REBECCA:            It;s not always, at least for me, I can’t maintain that, like, uhh, I guess, like, honeymoon period all the time

REBEKAH:                       Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                                  But it comes back

REBEKAH: Mm hmm. You seem very confident with, like, that it’s a part of who you are and what you do, like, just the way that you’re answering these questions and

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH:            It seems like you’re very confident that it’s a part of your experience, I guess.

REBECCA: Well, I think that, umm

REBEKAH:                       like, comfortable. Not questioning.

REBECCA: Because I don’t think that you can really get rid of it once you start it. Like, you couldn’t if you wanted to.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm.

REBECCA: Its like, but its like, everything you do, its just, like, your person. Everything you do relates to it, so when I started doing yoga and I put my body in the shape of, like, a tree or a dog, or whatever, like, that’s interesting to me, like, in the same way that, like, purple looks next to yellow ochre on a canvas and so everything you do, like anyone else, becomes a part of your experience, and I feel less attached to, like, having to make a lot of tangible objects just to justify that I am a, ha ha, like, but, that could also be called lazy

REBEKAH:                                  Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                                  Ha, ha, ha, there’s a really fine line

REBEKAH: Ha ha ha

REBEKAH: What are you, uhh, thinking about and excited about right now? Like, what is inspiring to you?

REBECCA: Hmm, umm, yoga?

REBEKAH: Yeah, right.

REBECCA:            Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                       You already said that, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: You know the, I forget what its called, but you know the pose where its like a shoulder stand and then you do like a back curve, like bend

REBECCA:                                             Mmm hmm

REBEKAH:                                                        And you’re supposed to get, like, your feet to your head?

REBECCA: Yeah

REBEKAH: I was so close to being able to do that before my injury.

REBECCA: Ha, ha, really?

REBEKAH: Yeah.

REBECCA: I’m working on my headstand

REBEKAH:                       Ha, ha

REBECCA:                                  But, I haven’t been practicing yoga in awhile, so it’s really shaky

REBEKAH: Yeah, I don’t think I could do one now anymore, I think I lost, like, all that strength.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm.

REBEKAH: It’s sad, I don’t know if I’ll ever put that, get the strength back to do it. Took a lot of time to build up.

REBECCA: Yeah, it’s frustrating to go back to something that you used to, that used to, that used to feel smooth and just feel how rough it is

REBEKAH:                                             Yeah

REBECCA:                                                        But

REBEKAH: Are you spiritual at all?

REBECCA: Umm, yeah. I’m, like, trying to tap into that kind of hard core right now.

REBEKAH: With the yoga, or, uhh?

REBECCA:            With the yoga, and just kind of trying to figure out what my, not figure out but, umm, trying to tap into that feeling of, like, a higher power. Umm, I’d say I go a little, my spiritual practice isn’t, hasn’t been, umm, firm or solid or continuous, and when its very weak, then I’m not, I’m not usually in a great spot.

REBEKAH: Hmm

REBECCA: So, I’ve seen more and more how, like, having a spiritual practice is probably more important than anything                       just a sense of being connected to something that’s larger than you, you know?

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm. Do you meditate?

REBECCA: I do. Ha, ha, do you?

REBEKAH: Umm, I used to more. I don’t, except when I’m having, like, except when I use it, like, as a coping—like, I will revert to it, or not revert to it, but, like, remember that it exists and look back to it for strength when I’m having, like, a moment of crisis, or like

REBECCA: That’s good

REBEKAH:            So

REBECCA:                       That’s good that you know how to do that.

REBEKAH: Yeah, but then it seems less like meditation and more just like anxiety, like medication almost, you know? Like, taking a Xanax or something. So. I don’t know, its something that I think I definitely used to be more spiritual, umm, and that’s kind of fallen away.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm. It’ll probably come back, maybe.

REBEKAH: Maybe, yeah. Its not something that I think about often as, like, an absence or a, you know, I think differently. I think when I was very young I was really into it. I really wanted to believe in God when I was, like, 10 and then, like, when that didn’t really work for me, I was very interested in feeling something

REBECCA:                                                        Yeah

REBEKAH: Spiritual.

REBECCA: The God thing always really tripped me out. I never knew how to wrap my head around it.

REBEKAH: Yeah.

REBECCA: That, that’s the thing, its not really something to wrap your head around.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha

REBECCA:            It’s something to wrap your heart around, you know? Like, that’s where I get into trouble is, like, when I think too much, you know?

REBEKAH:                                  Yeah!

REBECCA:                                                        That’s my, like, I think my greatest strength and also my biggest challenge.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm. Do you ever have, well, ha, ha, this is another kind of dumb question, cuz it seems probably obvious that everybody has internal struggle, but like, do you think that, do you feel like that’s a large part of your experience?

REBECCA: Struggle?

REBEKAH: Err, just having divided selves, almost of, like,

REBECCA:                                  Yes.

REBEKAH:                                                        Like, like, thinking too much, creating a struggle between various strength, you have two, two selves combative with each other inside?

REBECCA: Yeah, I feel that. For sure. Or, like, umm, the desire to, kind of, just, like, roam freely, make art, like, go on road trips all the time, ha, ha, ha, and, like, the actual, practical world of maybe working a 9-5 job and figuring out how art fits into my reality. But, I think the most interesting, I think, like, your struggles are the places where you find interesting work. Like,

REBEKAH:                                  Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                             Your, umm, or, or, at least, that’s what I’ve found. Those points of tension are where you can actually work through something or express something.

REBEKAH: Mmm hmm.

REBEKAH: Do you have any more questions for me?

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha. Umm, yeah, when are we gonna get together with the other Rebecca Volinskys?

REBEKAH: That’s a good question

REBECCA:                       Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: We’ll have to track down the fourth.

REBECCA: Yeah. We should have a Rebecca Volinsky party, dance party

REBEKAH:                                  Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                                             Ha, ha, ha. Or an opening, show. We should have a gallery show. Ha, ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH: We absolutely should. Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA:                       Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                       Yeah, we need to have collaborative work, and then also separately, ha, ha, ha.

REBEKAH: Yeah, I don’t, if I, yeah, well, I guess there’s always the internet for getting in touch with the other one, find out

REBECCA: So now do we think there’s 3 or there’s 4?

REBEKAH:                                  I think there’s 4

REBECCA:                       I think there are 4, too

REBEKAH: But I have no idea, no, I know nothing about the other, the fourth one who went to RISD. I have a somewhat idea about you and her.

REBECCA: Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:            Ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: It’s too much.

REBEKAH: Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about, as far as coincidences go. And dopplegangers.

REBECCA:            Awesome.

REBEKAH:                       And, yeah, thanks, thanks for meeting with me.

REBECCA: Yeah.

REBEKAH: Thanks for talking and imparting advice, ha, ha, ha

REBECCA: We should do it again

REBEKAH: Yeah.

REBECCA: I’d like that.

REBEKAH: I’d like that, too. I’ll give you a plant, for your room.

REBECCA: A plan?

REBEKAH: PlanT.

REBECCA: Oh, nice. Awesome. Yeah, I should show you my bamboo.

REBEKAH: Oh, yeah, we can still do that. We’ve pretty much had the interview.

REBECCA: Oh, nice. Oh, okay.

REBEKAH:            Ha, ha, ha. I feel like, I feel satisfied.

REBECCA: Cool, awesome.

REBEKAH: But, yeah, totally would love to see all your bamboo.

REBECCA:                                             Ha, ha, ha

REBEKAH:                                             I just potted a spider plant baby that I had been growing the roots in some water

REBECCA:                                                        Mmm hmm

REBEKAH:                                             For, like, a couple, for a month and a half, two months. And then I finally potted it in some soil today.

REBECCA:            Nice.

REBEKAH: Found a good, happy home for it.

REBECCA: Nice.

REBEKAH: Hmm, hmm.

REBECCA: How did you find out about the studio manager job? NYFA?

REBEKAH: Yeah, yup. Umm, and, I don’t know how it went after the interview, but before the interview, I felt like I had a good chance of it because I, she was gonna make a decision this afternoon and, like, didn’t because she wanted to try to meet me and have my interview. But, I don’t know, I guess, who can tell with jobs.

REBECCA: Yeah

REBEKAH: But, yeah, she had already interviewed a whole lot of other people, so. Yeah, I haven’t had a job that’s art-related, and that was one of the main reasons why I moved to New York was its hard to, there’s not much of a market for it elsewhere, or at least not really in Portland, where I was.

REBECCA: You were in Portland, Oregon?

REBEKAH:                       Mmm hmm

REBECCA:                                  I like it there.

REBEKAH: Its nice. It really, I like it, too. Ha, ha, ha. I don’t know if I’ll go back, I probably will pretty, I don’t know how soon, but I, I like it a lot, and it just, needed to figure out some other stuff first.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm.

REBECCA: It can’t hurt to have some New York in you.

REBEKAH:                                  Yeah?

REBEKAH: Or, not. We’ll see.

REBECCA: So, do you think you’ll want to stay here for awhile or just a little bit?

REBEKAH: Umm

REBECCA:            It’s hard to know

REBEKAH:                       Yeah, it’s hard to know, and I’m actively trying not to think about decisions that way, you know?

REBECCA: Yeah. One thing just leads to the next.

REBEKAH: Yeah, I’m trying to

REBECCA:                       And there’s no way to know

REBEKAH:                                  Yeah. I did just sign a 14-month lease, ha, ha, so, umm, maybe, I’ll be here for 14 months, ha ha.

REBECCA:                       Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: But again, something else could change. I could sublet. It doesn’t mean very much.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: Yeah, it feels like just now I’m starting to, like, have my move-in, moving to Brooklyn experience because I had been with my sister for this time

REBECCA: Mmm hmm

REBEKAH: Now that I’m moving on my own, it feels like I’m moving here.

REBECCA: Mmm hmm, yeah.

REBEKAH: Ha, ha, ha. Ok, well, I suppose that concludes

REBECCA:                                  Cool, I might actually stay here and work

REBEKAH: Okay

REBECCA:            But, this was great. Thank you.

REBEKAH: Thank you. Ha, ha, ha. Umm.

* * *

Rebecca and I continue to be in touch, and new but small points of overlap and coincidence continue to pop up in our lives. I feel grateful that Rebecca returned my projections and fears with generosity and present-ness in this first meeting. I am forever puzzled by the coincidence but happy to share a name.

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