Letter to an Academic: It’s the habit of art that makes an artist


I had no idea how much a bad experience with you, a writer, theorist and historian (who has not been an artist practitioner for a long time), affected me until I found myself in tears off and on several weeks after believing I had recovered from your snubbing and disregard of me after I thanked you for your acknowledgement of my work on Vimeo.


You must know, deep down inside, that you cannot go back to any glory that you might have had in your youth after you spent 25 or 35 or 45 years away from making the art that won you that glory. There are those of us who never had an important job that gave us prestige and perhaps a lot of cash; and who have plodded along still making the art that might or might not have already gotten us glory 25 or 35 or 45 years ago. In this, I mean specifically cultivating and regularly practicing the habit of making art and not getting gigs and/or getting cash.

The track records of us plodders have accrued, however, just like yours did during your distinguished career. Just like yours, except that our accrual was hours and hours and hours of the habit of hands-on practice. We cannot and will not be pushed out of our practice at 62 or 65 or 66 or 72 as you will be at 62 or 65 or 66 or 72.

Please be a really good teacher for a moment and share this truth with your students: “No matter how you well you own and romanticize your own aging in 25 or 35 or 45 years, you will not get a do-over. If you want to be an artist, do it now, today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and on and on, and never stop.”

Please tell them to cease the chatter and the theory and just do it. They will be sorry if they don’t, won’t they?

Originally published on Niume.

Updated Bibliography

July 11, 2016 http://bit.ly/0711SToyReviewAtMed
July 7, 2016 https://issuu.com/gioula/docs/program_miden_7-8_july_16_eng
Mar 28, 2016 http://brujoart.com/sylvia-toy-st-louis-wearing-my-t-shirt-in-her-film/
2014-2015 http://www.magmart.it/five/
Dec 28, 2013 http://patcostonmoviereviews.blogspot.com/2013/12/review-of-scifi-movies-in-2013.html
Dec 21, 2013 http://timeisloveshow.blogspot.com/2013/12/list-of-artists-time-is-love7-2014.html
July 20, 2013 https://issuu.com/galeriechartier/docs/a_collection_of_video_artists_from_/1
May 2013 http://vlog.videoart.net/?s=sylvia+toy
2012-2013 http://www.artchannel.info/page/archive
2011-2013 http://www.artchannel.info/page/user_profile/456
July 23, 2012 http://hoodline.com/2012/07/tag-youre-it-a-video-compilation-of-graffiti-on-linden
Sept 1, 2011 http://vip.newmediafest.org/?page_id=674 (Artist Interview)
Dec 2, 2010  http://alteredesthetics.org/gallery-events/exhibitions/advertiing
April 1, 2010 http://alteredesthetics.org/gallery-events/exhibitions/resident-artist-vi-creative-collaborations
Aug 1, 2008 http://alteredesthetics.phanfare.com/2567368

“Artist Retrospective: The Unsung Genius of Sylvia Toy” by Cathrin Gordon

Artist Retrospective: The Unsung Genius of Sylvia Toy

After watching Sylvia Toy’s first cut of The Harpy, I find myself asking, Who is Sylvia Toy? Why don’t I know about her? In many ways, Sylvia Toy is Genius personified.


A new short: THE HARPY (first cut, 8 minutes, 2016)

A female goddess awakens from a 10,000-year coma only to discover that her kind is extinct.

This project began “edited out” of my current major project, KILLER JANE (about a woman has nightmares that she is a serial killer). However, though the Harpy has a lot of nightmare potential, she emerged with too much subtext not to be a protagonist in her own right. The character really spoke to me, revealing that her sister gods had banished her and put her into what was supposed to be a permanent sleep because she disagreed with the gods’ creation of the humans and said it was a “mistake.” Since in the world of this story gods don’t make mistakes, the Harpy was a heretic. Ironically, when she awakens, the only remaining living member of her lineage is a god, a First One, who also was condemned to eternal sleep as a heretic.

I am still working on fleshing out the resolution of this short movie, but essentially, it is finished.

My current major project: KILLER JANE

Killer Jane, a performance art movie in-progress. Jane has serial dreams that she has murdered someone without knowing whom or why. This is my first experiment showing her go from the end of the dream to waking up.