I am curious today about the continuum of experiences artists have with their objects—if objects are what you make. I am always prone to hyper-fiddly types of making processes, given any amount of time, space, and materials—which, for the first time in my life, I have in simultaneous abundance #blessed—and absolutely regard making as a meditative process that is self-satisfying (and a good excuse to binge TV or podcasts without feeling like a total piece of garbage). But I also like my outcomes. They seem very right to me. I like to be able to see them. I sell them sometimes, but I find that I miss them, when I do. I find myself wishing I could see that thing again. I used to be comfortable with the idea of finishing work, but lately I don’t feel as certain about things being done. Perhaps the perspective of age, that I like having the option of picking it back up, later.
I noticed this, because I’ve been doing longform embroidery and mixed-media fiber works, based on what I call “involuntary collaboration” with artists who have screen printed their imagery on fabric. I started with three works by Erin Anderson-Ruddon, and have moved on to a menagerie of animals and images by ToothxNail in the UK. I have some stuff I copped from Cleveland-based artist Michael Lombardy on deck for my next set. But I’m stalling right now, because the armadillo I’m working on is already spoken for, and I think I’m taking it so slowly because I understand that this is the only time I get with it. Then it goes out of my life, and I don’t necessarily get to set eyes on it or lay hands on it ever again.
I don’t believe in procrastination anymore. I believe my brain enables me to do things when I’m ready to do them. My first lesson about this was with writing. I am just not one of those writers who fucks with writer’s block. I sit down to write about ten times more often than I write. If I find myself poking hornets’ nests or chasing rabbits down internet holes, I get up and do something else, because the writing is not ready; anything else is just going to be button-mashing, and read that way. I say it’s like baking a cake. If I’ve put the ingredients together, mixed them around, and stuck it in the oven, I can peek at it as much as I like, but it’s not coming out until it’s baked. So might as well walk the dog, weed the garden. You’ll hear the ding when it’s ready.
I see maybe the same is true about object-making. It’s always flattering to sell work, and represents an always-welcome financial boon when it happens, but it does me little good to know that a piece is sold in advance. Then art-making, which for me is an ultimately selfish act, is forced into a place of selflessness. I’ve become a surrogate mother for a work, which will come into the world and immediately go to someone else.
I find, when I have a show, I always sell the works I like the best. As art is subjective, I can’t say that these must be the best works, but those are the ones that always seem to go. I suppose there are works I never think about anymore—I am far less precious, for example, about photographic prints that I have sold—but there are ones that I still regret letting go. I am better mollified in cases where I traded them not for money, which has gone into groceries or my gas tank, but other art objects, which I cherish every day.
Goddamn, art is great. I hope you make some today.
And I wonder what you’ll do with it. Tell me!