The Things We Must Do, 2021
Mixed media

Nate Mullen: This work is a collaboration between Sterling Toles and myself, that grows out of years of conversations about the role of art in life and the balance act of making art and making a living. The piece is an attempt to make visible that contraction and also what emerged in many ways is a portrait of my own struggles with the balance of what I need and what I am obligated to do. The work is a multimedia assemblage, made up from test prints from my work and sculptural experiments.

Sterling Toles: This work fluidly emerged from our frequent conversations about the intersection between art for transformation and art for commerce. From our conversations, I began to contemplate the posturing of the peacock in relation to the securing of legacy and prosperity. As artists we are encouraged to see our visibility as our life line. We can then become consumed with the amplification of our feathers, or practice, being seen outwardly. Sometimes this consumption obstructs our ability to see within ourselves. The practice that once made us feel ubiquitous, can quietly morph into one that becomes rooted in securing our position in the world. Even as we are adorned in favor and acclaim, there remains a spirit within us in search of our practice, to grant it an opening to reach tangibility. We can take pride in becoming tangled in the details of effort, not always recognizing how our spirit may arrive at our practice wrapped in our barest of truths, requesting understanding through process, rather than merely being converted to fuel for social advancement.