Link to my website:

What to do with too much research material?

My research has been focused around ‘American Disillusionment’ and the associated (liberal) collective anxiety.  I think it is a solid topic as it’s contemporary, authentic to me, and there is a plethora of material.  However, there are several problems as well.

First, there is almost too much research material.  Every single day I am bombarded with news items and images that speak to American awfulness.  Another problem is that I feel low-grade nausea when I have to watch Trump speak on t.v., so I try to avoid it.  Also, there is the fact that though I feel close to America, I haven’t actually lived there for 23 years. Conversely, though I’m far away, I may be too close to the issue – it’s all too present and now.  So, I’ve had to devise a few strategies to try to muddle my way through (names of paintings in parentheses):

  • Limit the topic – rather than focusing on all that is wrong with America, I have focused on my favourite ‘hates’ – entitlement, guns everywhere and racism NOT ‘over’. (Oh My Gawd! Kid With Gun, Kids With Guns, April 4, 1968)
  • Be subjective – I’ve used what resonates personally with me, looking at past experiences and memories to generate ideas for work. (C’ville, P Town)
  • Look backwards – how did we get in the mess we’re in? What are the causes for the American political and economic landscape we face today? What historical events symbolise these causes? (TV Dinner, The Big Letdown, Challenger 1 and 2)
  • Contrast – when was America a better place? If we’re at the low point, what was the high point? (Cape Moon, Man on Moon)
  • Talk to other people – This is the opposite of the ‘be subjective’ strategy, but can help to achieve some distance and is helpful when looking historically. (#MeToo (Chappaquiddick))

image detail from C’ville

Amy Robson