My name is Andy Mills. I am an interdisciplinary artist and writer, working toward my degree in Studio Art and Creative Writing. I expect to graduate in Spring of 2024. Much of my work is interested in memory and language as it relates to place. I work across a broad array of media including fiber, sculpture, painting, poetry, and fiction. The last-mentioned is the form my IDEA Grant project will take.
My project’s current working title is Good: Five Short Stories. It will be a creative writing project which will challenge the boundary between short story collection and novel. Since this is a creative research project, much of my research will be based in innovating and investigating craft and form. Additionally, I will be doing lots of research related to the topics my collection will cover. The collection will take place in America in the latter half of the 20th century. It will explore the shifting cultural mores and norms with special attention to the actions of counter-cultural and artistic movements. The stories will have overlapping characters and settings, and will build on each other thematically. At the same time, each story will be self-contained enough that they can be read as stand-alone pieces.
As I am finishing up the Spring semester, I find myself in a pre-research phase. I have collected the books I already own that are relevant to my research and am slowly working my way through them when I have spare time. I am currently reading the essay collection, CrisisL A Contemporary Reader, which was edited by Peter Collier and published in 1969. A couple of essays of note in the collection so far are the American Friends Service Committee’s “The Psychological Effects of the Draft” and Tom Wolfe’s “Porno-violence.” The collection also contains essays by Norman Mailer, Amiri Baraka, Hunter S. Thompson, Philip Roth, and Ralph Ellison. I have found this collection interesting both on the basis of the actual texts, and as a historical document preserving cultural thought and observation from the time. I have also been watching documentaries related to my area of research. Two that I found illuminating are Eva Hesse (2016) and Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (2020). Both are currently available to those with a Leon County Library card on the streaming service, Kanopy. I recommend them to anyone interested in the subject matter. The purpose of all this precursory research is to absorb information and attitudes and find inspiration, rather than finely analyze content. Basically, I am preparing my mindset to be focused on the world of my collection once summer begins. Still, I must note that out of the thirty-two essays compiled in Crisis, not a single one was written by a woman.
Another gem from this early phase of research: I was able to purchase a copy of Rolling Stone that I have been coveting for years. It is from February, 1969 and is described by the publisher as “A Special Super-Duper Neat Issue: The GROUPIES and Other Girls.” It focuses on women and girls in the rock music scene of the time, though heavily slanted by three male journalists to a heavily male intended audience. It features profiles on Frank Zappa’s girl group, The GTO’s, and on groupie-artist duo, The Plaster Casters. The issue is really a time capsule preserving attitudes towards gender in sex in late 60’s counter-culture, and at times is genuinely hard to read as the landscape of rock music is so heavily romanticized that even the bleakest abuses against women are made glossy. The main article is available to read online here, and if you choose to do so you’ll see what I mean. Still, this is an incredibly important document for my research and I can’t wait to get into it further.
I think that is all I have to share for now! Bonne soirée, dear readers.