I’ve never met Andy Heck Boyd in person, but have been fascinated to watch his creative output online on his Instagram account. He has had solo shows at BUOY in Kittery Maine, where I too have exhibited. It is through BUOY that I was introduced to his work and told of his unique lifestyle. Here is his story.
Kenny: A cursory scan of your Instagram feed revealed to me two instances of yourself, one as a self-described “reclusive” and another as “living alone in a one bedroom apartment”. Are these characterizations accurate, and how do they define you as an artist, particularly in relation to your art practice and in the context of our theme of “Sanctuary?
Andy: I am shy. I like going out for coffee and coming straight back home with it. I get to most places by walking and enjoy the time outside. I do like to leave my apartment every day though. Maintaining relationships is difficult. I am deeply obsessed with making things happen, so that in part is one reason I tend to spend most of my time alone. I spend a lot of time in my home. Once every other week I visit my parents who live in a nearby town. Not far. It’s good to see them. The rest of the week I’m back and I find things to do. Writing, in a sense, is what I do. I use a paint brush, still camera, motion picture camera, audio recorder, really to write with any tool I have an interest in and to use its basics properties to explore things. I can leave when I want, and come back any time. I mostly choose to stay here, and get into things, my work. My interests. Right now I am and have been getting rid of a lot of my work I’ve accumulated over the years. I think eventually I’d like a very simple setup in my apartment, a desk or two, a bed, a couple of chairs, and one shelf. And I think I’ve almost reached that goal. My sanctuary type home is a simple, basic, bare bones type of place, where I can write and think without much distraction.
Kenny: I think that it is interesting that you see your work as writing. I also wonder about storage and your efforts to keep your space spare. Also,it seems that your art is closely tied to your daily living, since your living and “studio” seem to be one and the same.
Andy: Yes, the way I feel about my how I see my work is always changing, and will continue to change, I’m sure. Seeing my work as all different forms of writing is founded upon what I’ve read recently, me changing how I view things, and the purposeful instability of my own views. Yes, my daily practice takes place in where I live and work, one and the same. Maybe it’s a type of mutual agreement between my work and me. I’m not sure.
Kenny: How would you characterize your relationship to external art outlets and venues with respect to your studio practice or your studio realm? Is there tension or symbiosis/transparency, a conventional relationship or unconventional relationship?
Andy: Well, I wasn’t always living in such a quiet and isolated way. I think at some point in my past I saw or felt it too difficult to maintain appearances. Before that I was somewhat outgoing, and liked to be around people. I was diagnosed with a type of illness, a sort of paranoia. And I don’t know if I’d consider it a hindrance, or just something that I have to factor into my decisions. So I do enjoy working with galleries, showing work from time to time. But I do not like to be physically present at the openings. It has worked out okay so far. They seem to understand and are cool with me not traveling to openings etc. It works well.
Kenny: Do you feel any importance/significance/value in defining yourself as or being an artist that might live more reclusively than other artists or do you see parallels within current or historical examples of how artists live and work in relation to how you live and work?
Andy: I’ve come to know more about myself, living alone, which is what I was looking for, too, a chance to get to know myself. I sometimes read about other artists and writers who have lived and worked in a similar way. The Internet has made things unusual, in that I have made some good friendships, had some shows and sold some art, without meeting anyone in person. I’m reclusive, in a way, but every day I talk to different people online. I sometimes wonder what it would be like for me to not have or to choose not to be online. It might be cool to be isolated without the Internet.
Kenny: Does your broad approach to creating art using multiple tools, whether paint on canvas, video, audio, etc., as “writing” suggest that there is a larger narrative that might have key elements that recur? I have noticed that you repeatedly employ certain props such as the stuffed Teddy bear and reference popular cultural motifs in cartoon-like characters and TV clips. Do you circle back in your open-ended, ever-changing, “unstable” process?
Andy: I do make cycles, returning to things after some time. It has been an unstable process for a while. Before that I had a routine making 2D animated cartoons on the computer. I did that for 6 years or so. Every day working only on the computer, using a mouse to draw cartoons with Macromedia Flash on the MacBook. It was the only thing I did. It was the only thing I wanted to continue doing. But after awhile I developed tendonitis in my hand, wrist and arm. I had to stop making cartoons. So I began looking for another tool to use, I wanted to continue writing. I think that’s what I’m doing now, I’m cycling back and forth hoping to make a long-lasting connection with a tool to write with. Everything I am doing since, I think, is an experiment, a test to see how things feel. To find a single tool that is equal to what I used to have. And then once I find consistency, I can really delve deep with it. Things currently prevent me from being able to stick with a single tool, cost of things, tendonitis, and storage space.
Kenny: Your art can seem exceedingly cluttered with the detritus of the outside world at times. Is there a therapeutic experience in processing this within the spare container that is your refuge and place to think without distraction. Or, are you more philosophical about discoveries made while processing such a variety of things within a place that might otherwise be so uncluttered? Do some objects live in the space longer than others?
Andy: No object really stays too long. A couple years ago, I took thousands of works, most on paper, some paintings, etc, filled twelve or so boxes and shipped them to people who wanted them, nothing traded or sold. I gave them away for free and I paid for shipping too. I threw out a lot of work too. For several years I’ve thrown away a lot. I imagine I feel the complete opposite of someone who has a need to save every object that they see or come into contact with. The work I do doesn’t have much or any use to me afterwards. So I clear it all out. But I want to reduce overall waste of things, and that itself has been a challenge so far. If I could make something or do something, using something, and or some material, or tool, that I can be prolific with, and it is cost effective, affordable, and doesn’t cause bodily stress like tendonitis etc., that would be awesome. I have made a lot of discoveries and acquired a sort of insight into some things along the way with making things. I like thinking. Thinking doesn’t take up much space. And one good thing, at least, about using computing devices is it’s contained within the hardware, or the Internet. This brings up a lot of other things to wonder about. I would think, and have thought, that being a novelist seems like the ideal thing for me to do. But I seem to rather prefer writing of things like, notes, observations, and many false starts on things for essays, lectures etc.
Featured image, at top of page: Andy Heck Boyd, Cars in a Circle, installation view
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