What to do with non-art

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about my own stuff a lot lately, mainly because I have to consider what I’m going to have room for in my undoubtedly smaller apartment next year (since I clearly can’t afford this place by myself and I will die before I have a roommate). I have SO much old artwork. I always feel weird about calling it art, because it really isn’t. It’s basically a bunch of junk from my art school days — old assignments, unfinished pieces that never went anywhere, sketchbook after sketchbook after sketchbook. I’ll never hang it up and I rarely even look at any of it. So why do I hold onto it? There seems to be some kind of sacred aura around the mass of work, protecting it from the trash can and the gesso brush. I don’t even want to gesso over reallyreallyreally old, terrible paintings just to reuse the canvas. For some reason, I just can’t make myself do anything with them. In class we always hear about the tragedy of artists destroying their own works. Big bonfires of the stuff, burning away. And Michelangelo’s doodles are far better than anything that’s ever come out of my hand, that’s for sure. So why can’t I bring myself to get rid of my own work? Actual artists rework and repaint their own stuff too. Why can’t I even bring myself to do that? It’s more like improving on something than covering it up, isn’t it?

Funny story. Last year, in the shit hole apartment, one of our closets flooded because of some kind of water/pipe issue on the floor above us. Naturally, it was the closet with all my art in it. It wasn’t particularly clear how much water went where, so we didn’t want to take everything out of the closet. When it came time to reorganize the closet (I do this every few months), I realized that there was a lot of water damage, and some pieces were thoroughly destroyed. Some that weren’t destroyed by water, were covered in mold. Needless to say, I *had* to throw out some of my work. So I used alec’s camera to take pictures of them all before the trash truck took them, so I could remember them, have evidence that they existed. Unknowingly, alec deleted all the photos on his camera, assuming I had already copied them onto my computer. Gone forever. It was heartbreaking for me, absolutely heartbreaking. I even bagged up some of the moldy pieces because I couldn’t bear to throw them out, so now I have somewhat moldy works in a giant plastic wrapping in my closet. Totally useless, yet I can’t bear to give them up.

I’ve done a lot of irrational things, but this is one that I just can’t explain away. There is no reason to hold onto a painting I did for my 8th grade painting class. There is no reason to hold onto half-completed paintings, or my failed attempts at printmaking. I should get rid of them. But I just can’t. It’s frustrating being irrational. It’s frustrating being irrationally emotional. And it’s frustrating trying to find places in a small apartment for a lot of old crapola.


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