Yesterday I did something that's been on my mind for a few weeks. I purged my art. I'd been meaning to re-organize the closets in my apartment one by one over the next few weeks and I decided to begin yesterday with the studio. My space in that room has gotten smaller and smaller because the work I do has mainly shifted lately to writing, yet my partner's work has expanded to include podcasting in addition to the music recording he does in that space. We needed to address the storage issue in closet - a space that was filled mainly with a backlog of my forgotten work.
What happens to artwork once its made? I think of the thousands of art students out there - even in this city alone - and I wonder, what happens to those piles of sketchbooks, drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures? Do they gather dust under beds and in closets, in parents' basements until...? I don't know. Honestly, it's something I've never really heard anyone talk about. I thought about and looked at the art that was in my closet and came to the conclusion that it doesn't really represent who I am now, or where I'm headed with my work. I have no plans to show it and if someone was interested in buying it they likely would have by now. I have plans for new projects and I don't want the ghosts of inspirations past haunting my closet as reminders of projects that never got anywhere. Furthermore, with every subsequent move over the last four years (three in total) I've taken the opportunity to get rid of things I no longer need or use. My old art was the last of these relics to go. I feel comfortable with the title of "minimalist" and my new organized closet finally reflects that.
How do I feel now that this stuff is gone? Honestly, it's bittersweet. There was a good deal of nostalgia felt when going through work from 2005, 2006 - my first two years out of high school. There was work from my first BFA that I'd completely forgotten I'd done. There was also work that I loved and was totally proud of (and kept). It was an odd feeling bringing it all down to the basement of my building to be taken away. I felt like I was somehow ...betraying it. Or myself. Part of me wanted to take a hammer to it - not because I was angry or wanted to see it wrecked, but so that some well-meaning person wouldn't try to "rescue" it by putting it on their walls. As I explained to my confused boyfriend, I wanted a clean break. I wanted it gone.
Logistically speaking, there were a few questions I went through before I made my choice. I have friends who like my work and if I posted it all for free on Facebook, I'm sure some of the items would have gone to new, appreciative homes. I considered it. My boyfriend, who is fiercely sentimental and has a hard time letting go of things, couldn't believe that I didn't want to do this. My reasoning was mainly as I mentioned above: the work no longer represented what I'm into, and I wanted it to just go away. My mum has work of mine on her walls that I did in high school and I cringe every time I see it. I don't want to experience that at anyone else's home or apartment.
So that's it. The studio is a little emptier, and my next move will be that much easier. I have new plans and goals artistically and that include making much smaller, reproducible works like zines and prints. I'm looking forward to re-defining the art I make.
This is the "before". The dresser at the left of the frame was directly in front of the closet door so only one door could open. The shelves in the closet held supplies, old school notes, and framed small drawings. Behind the door were large pieces piled the entire depth of the closet.
After. The dresser holds some of my boyfriend's clothes (the bedrooms in our apartment are rather small). His scarf collection has no real place at the moment, so for now they'll be kept here, out of the way and safe from dust and cat hair. The shelves have been removed and the only art that remains is stored flat in a portfolio on top of the dresser. My school notes and some of my photographs (from studying analog photography) remain, but nearly everything else you see in here belongs to Michael - and those boxes beside the dresser are empty.
Until next time.