Friday, September 23, 2011

Thoughts On Trashing Treasure

In my last post I mentioned that the pictured art work has been destroyed and one of my readers/friends posted the following:

I'm enjoying your treasures from the vault. I gasped when you said you've destroyed it.

Terry, would you share your thoughts about doing that? How did you choose what to sacrifice? What feelings did you have about that? Any regrets? I'm on a quest to unclutter. I can hear my art instructor who said never toss out anything. But not everything is worth saving.

O.K., with pleasure.

First of all, if you work three dimensional it's an entirely different ballgame than working with artwork which can be folded, stacked or put in a flatfile. My work was hard to package, sometimes dangerous as it has sharp pointed projectiles, gathered dust and cobwebs like it was gold.

In my family we have the pleasure of both being artists so we also have twice the work to be stored. This was fine until we sold our studio where we had the majority of our work stored. We rented a storage unit for some work but because I was not showing or working at that time I simply had to sort and discard some work. It was not a matter of not being connected with the work, I was connected and I am still connected. It's just that I've always said that the most important part of my making art is the experience and not the product. I still have the experience.

I went through what I had, made sure I had photographs and we then took the items I was not going to keep to the dump. At that time it was a rather spectacular landfill with a cliff that you backed up to unload your items. We backed up to that, stood on the edge, threw things into the abyss and watched the massive crusher drive over the work. It was rather cleansing.

Some years ago I read a Fung Shui book titled Clearing Clutter. It's a small quick read. The one specific thing I recall from this title was that whenever you get rid of something it makes room in your life for something new. I've remembered that and I try to practice that. Right now I am sitting in my new studio room and the furniture is in place but there are piles of stuff everywhere. I have determined to sort these things before I begin to work again.

I don't know why we need to keep ALL of our artwork. Why not keep the best. We usually know which pieces fall into that category. I don't think it's necessary to give it away. I actually prefer to destroy it than have less than my best out in the world. The world has plenty of stuff. If you sell like hotcakes you don't have to worry about this but if you are stockpiling your art there will come a day when someone will have to make some hard decisions as to what to do with it all. Why not do them and yourself a favor and manage your inventory. You might be surprise by how refreshing it feels.

Thank you for spending time at Studio 24-7. I love hearing from and Remember:

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  1. one has to be in a space of confidence to let go of their creations...holding on is out of fear, i think, because we question if we can ever make something as good and holding on becomes the evidence that we did at least something worthwhile.

    when one is confident, one believes, i can create this again and do it even better...

  2. good timing for me, Terry, this post, as this week I am preparing (er, still procrastinating to prepare) for a garage sale where I have said to myself, in addition to all household ephemera and furntiture/clutter that must go, I need to go through my fabric wall in the garage that I have not touched in 6 years since I moved, bundle it all in pretty bundles, and get it out the door! to make brain space and to gain some freedom for other life plans!!!! YES! we just need reminders sometimes! thank you!

  3. I agree with you Terry. I recently threw away all of my college work and most of my uni work in a big clearout. It felt liberating and I feel like I've got room now (physically and mentally)to make new work.

  4. Thank you for your comments and ideas. Sometimes it might take a few sortings to be able to discard an item but I can not recall ever wishing I had a specific work back. As to the fabric Pamm, I could make a few bundles myself.

    Let me know how it goes with your cleaning and what new comes into your life.

  5. I really like the image of tossing things into an abyss. Such a contrast with placing items into a discard pile. You've given me impetus to declutter with physicality and the perspective of making way for new things. Oooh, could even be fun. Thank you, Terry.

  6. The experience was rather grand. Have fun. I agree with you that fun might be just the right attitude;-)

  7. Terry, I like this post! Clearing out and opening up is great for the soul. We just rearranged the furniture in our house and got rid of just one big piece that was apparently blocking all of the spacious feeling in two rooms. How could that be? I don't understand it but now we have two spacious rooms: what used to be just the dining room but is now a reading/lounging-dining room and a more spacious living room. We have a relatively tiny house but space is a mental as well as a physical condition, I think.

    As far as getting rid of old artwork, I have done big purges a couple of times, both destroying work I didn't want to be in the world any more and giving away things I might be able to see again. And of course there is always reusing the panels, canvases, stretchers or whatever. A good cleanout is good for opening your mind and spirit.

  8. Hi Nancy! Your "new" spacious room is a great example of what can happen when you "lighten your load". Your statement shows how much you are enjoying the feeling of more space. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's real or perceived, the pleasure is still there.

    I'll be posting an image of my new studio before long. I'm still in the process of trying to sort through little stacks of papers and other things that don't seem to have a place. When I find where they belong my goal is to keep my space open and clear.

    It's great to hear from you.

  9. I am in a constant struggle with the collecting of the old...and the realization that making the new is the process I love. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  10. Hey Mary Helen! It is indeed ongoing. In the sorting of papers in this current move, I'm still trying to sort through and I have discarded a few old works. I've also decided I need some additional storage which is why there are still stacks on my work table. Container Store, Here I come! Thank you for commenting.

  11. Personally I have some pieces that I never liked all that much even though they had been juried into shows. I have turned them into ashes to spread on the garden where they shall bloom in a different way. In art school the teachers would take work they thought particularly good. I always thought I can create it over and better too but I never bothered to. Hmmmm.

  12. OMG! I've never experience having a teacher keep my work.... I don't think they could get away with that now.

    Your thoughts about recreating a piece is very interesting. It shows great confidence in your skills. Your not recreating it tells me you really didn't "need" to repeat yourself. I respect that a great deal.

    Good to hear from you.