Another reason I’m glad I … enriched the title of my blog is that now I feel I can include the mixed media pieces I make here too.
In many ways, making art is the opposite of conservation. You use precious resources just to have something sit on a shelf or a wall, one might say. Paint, photography materials, glues, and papers can be toxic to manufacture, use, and dispose of. You have to make sketches, try, and fail, and do over — surely that’s wasteful? I struggle with these ideas all of the time.
There is an idea in your head that starts forming. You see things in your travels and everyday life that speak to you, and you collect them, over years in many cases. I’m not only talking about experiences, but materials, too. Then, something (you see, read, go through, all of the above) serves as a catalyst to get it out of your head and into the world. Talking about it or writing about it just doesn’t work completely. You have to make it.
I have (I think) two more on this theme inside of me — working on the second right now!
The box was a plain wood box I picked up in the Middle of Nowhere, PA a few years ago and painted with the dregs of some acrylic paint I’ve had for ages. The butterflies are German die-cut ephemera, something I purchased simply because they were heartbreakingly beautiful. The pins are from the stash I’ve been sewing with for decades. The women are little railroad models. I grabbed the foam core from my husband’s stash. The lace paper is from an art supply I visited on my magical day trip to NYC with the Fine Arts program. The netting/veiling is from our Christmas ham (!) The text was produced on the typewriter my husband bought me as a gift. The feelings are from a lifetime of being a woman.
Sure, I had to wash the remains of the paint on my brushes down the sink. I didn’t cut the foam core correctly the first time and had to do it again. Maybe you’d make the argument that those pins would be much more useful pinning together the makings of clothing than sitting in a box on the wall. But, I’m at peace with this kind of making for making’s sake. I feel so much better, stronger, more able to suffer those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune* after externalizing/exorcising my complicated, not black and white feelings through image-making. That’s because, through making, you can transform them. Use them instead of having them use you. And darling, I ain’t rationing THAT.
*Shakespeare, Hamlet, but I bet you knew that 🙂