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Mistakes Were Made 

By Josh Keller & Carissa Potter

We are a couple trying to stay together during a pandemic. Some context: When Josh and Carissa started dating 12 years ago now, Josh told Carissa frankly that he did not believe in collaboration. He believes that someone always has to be in control. That their truest collaboration would be having a baby. For Carissa, on the other hand, everything is a collaboration. Life experience is a collaborative process wherein our interactions dictate who we are and what we do. Humans understand the world through the lens of other humans.


Josh’s art practice deals with toil and absurdity. He spends hours laboring over the minuscule details that no one will notice but him. And after a day of working, he feels defeated and like he has never done enough (even though he is enough just for existing and, practically speaking, he has a lot to show for it). Carissa felt her pain and Josh’s pain and held back the feelings of hopelessness throughout the process as best she could. The song, “I don’t know what I can save you from,” by Kings of Convenience played in her head. Her art practice deals with processing emotions to better understand what it means to be human.


Mistakes Were Made is an exhibition where the two practices/formats come together. Josh conceived and built a series of interlocking forms inspired by Peppa Pig, a British toddler show, and Magna Tiles. In following Sol Lewitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art, Josh adheres to #5: Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically. With the process of enlarging the tiles to adult scale, Josh finds comfort in the repetitive building tasks that he can perfect and control. The small playful vernacular becomes consuming and sculptural, almost suggesting that the scaffolding for life comes from play. It should be noted that viewers can only look, these shapes are fixed in space.


Carissa’s understanding of events takes the form of text and drawing. Carissa keeps a diary of her emotional states. Looking at them as honestly as her brain will let her. Highlighting and examining the purpose of the lies she tells herself. Not that they have to be fixed, just accepted. With the hopes that with awareness some understanding can take root.


Coming together, the panels parallel our different emotional needs during the pandemic. There are layers of generational trauma bubbling up to the surface, taking form with two versions of coping skills. Together, they are a heartfelt attempt to come together. To understand the world alongside each other. To build a life together. 


There is a point where things fall apart and break. A threshold in which we pass when things are not worth it anymore. And we are not there yet. However, mistakes were made.

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