As a young artist, you’re like a gypsy, just kind of making shit and moving around the city. Then all of a sudden a gallery shows interest and everything changes. I did my work solo until a gallery picked me up in New York. Then they were calling and saying, “We need this, we need this, we need this.” The gallery started selling my work so rapidly that I was like, “Oh, shit.” I had a complete meltdown. That’s when they stepped in and helped me get a bigger studio space and assistants. Emotionally and professionally, I had to grow up real fast. To go from a savings account of $10,000 to $400,000 over-fucking-night? That is mentally complicated to consume. I cried through that whole process. When you ask for what you want, you better be damn ready for it when it comes.

I don’t have any regrets, because I’ve never not followed my bliss.

I’ve always been confident. It comes down to understanding who you are and connecting that to ways you can be purposeful. I was raised by parents who supported me and provided a foundation that allowed me to dream and be whatever it was I needed to be at the time. When you get that kind of unconditional love, you are able to move accordingly.

Quiet space has always been part of my practice. Fifty to 60 percent of the time, I’m by myself making art. To just be is everything, takes everything. If we all were quiet daily for one hour, we would live in a different world.

I have a hard time being at an opening and dealing with people. You’re working solo and isolated, down to the wire, then there’s an opening two days later and you’re on for the rest of the evening. That’s exhausting. Beforehand, I literally lie in the middle of the floor in silence with my eyes closed and completely relax. You have to get yourself aligned in order to emerge into that moment.

When I moved to Chicago in 1989, I was walking home on South Michigan Avenue carrying this big black portfolio. All of a sudden, 10 police cars surrounded me, and I was told to lie on the ground. They came up to me and said, “Were you in the convenience store down the street?” I told them no, I was coming from teaching at the School of the Art Institute. They then realized they didn’t have the right person, and the cars just sped away. And there I was, standing in complete psychological shock and not really knowing what to do with that. It took me at least a year to work through it.

I am lucky to have art, let me tell you. It has been my savior, the space that I can pour all of these emotions into. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it.

I tell my graduate students that there’s no manual I can provide as they leave school. Everyone’s path is different. At the end of the day, it comes down to you. If you’re not putting in the work, the results are what they are. It’s all about learning from mistakes. Sometimes I’ll let them crash and be like, “It’s OK to be on the fucking floor having a moment.” That’s important, trust me.

I don’t believe in the starving artist. That makes no sense to me. Get a job.