How did you get into debt?
I made the tragic mistake (at the age of 18) of attending The New School (just kidding, no regrets). I thought the giant scholarship they gave me would make it affordable, but ya know... New York. After that I went to CalArts for my MFA and-- thanks to the maximum amount of graduate federal loans-- I was able to pay off the predatory private loans from my undergraduate degree. It worked! I'm in horrible debt, but at least it's all federal and deferrable.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
I'm someone who comes from a lower middle class background who has an elite education. Obviously that deal is always a faustian one. I actually feel like my profound and inexhaustible class rage has had an incredibly positive effect on my art. When you're not from the upper echelons of society, you have this deep, experiential understanding of class power and how it's exercised to coerce, co-opt, and control the population. I wouldn't give up the knowledge and experiences I've gained by putting myself in this debt, but there's also a kind of existential horror in realizing you are an indentured servant to the finance industry, no matter how virulently you may try to resist them. Who knows if my particular passion and intensity would be this peaked if I wasn't broke and acutely aware of the machinations that got me here; who knows if my obsession with politics and the political would be this pronounced. Ultimately my economic reality IS my reality, so it affects my art immensely.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
I work very very hard to resist the impulse to make life decisions based on my debt-fear. But I also acknowledge that my entire life would be different if I didn't have this threat hanging over me. Honestly, I dodged a bullet because so much of my debt is now in federal subsidized loans, so I'm currently able to differ until (if) I actually start making more money.