Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Did It!

It has been a long time since I've sat down to post anything. Partly due to the crazy holiday season and partly because of Pinterest. It's just so dang easy to pin something and be done with it. When I want to remember that really cool piece of upcycled art, I just have to go to my Upcycled Art board and it's waiting there with the original link embedded. It makes blogging seem a bit cumbersome.

That said, Pinterest doesn't allot much space for one to ruminate about the interesting things found both on--and in cases like yesterday--offline. After seeing the Lance Letscher show at D Berman Gallery in Wimberly, his work was in my head the rest of the day. Pinning a few images to my Favorite Artists board didn't allow me to process any of what had been spinning around in there.

My good friend Lee Anne and I had been scheming for weeks trying to get to the show, but it took not just the finality of the last day, but the actual closing of the gallery on February 1 to force our hand. I'm glad it did. Lance's work is just amazing and being able to see it with another artist was a real pleasure.
Images courtesy of D Berman Gallery

I see so many inspiring things in his work, but what I keep coming back to over and over again is his ability to create perfection out of imperfection. The individual pieces of any given collage are completely imperfect. They aren't cut quite right. They feature (seemingly) random snippets of pages. The pieces don't always tightly align. All this stuff generally bugs me. I like nice, crisp lines and tight geometry, but his work is so beautiful and compelling due in large part to this un-crispness. I had the same thought at the El Anatsui exhibit I saw a couple of weeks back. Beautiful, tapestry like pieces made from tiny bits of random and rough cut tin and bottle caps. Up close the individual pieces are anything but artful. However, sewn together with wire alongside thousands of similar pieces elevates what is truly trash into what is unquestionably art.
Image courtesy of Artaic, Innovative Mosaic

At some point in the day Lee Anne and I were discussing this phenomenon and I mentioned how difficult it has always been for me to use or cut random pieces of tin in my work. I always think too much about what part of the tins I'm cutting. Is it symmetrical? Does it have a balance of line and color? Will it complement the other pieces I'll be pairing it with? Plus, all bets are off if it has even a smidge of typography on it. Can I show part of an 'A'? Will it be readable? Does it need to be readable? What does part of an 'A' mean? It's just insane how much stuff like this rockets through my brain. So much so that I am somewhat paralyzed by it.

One of my goals this year is to make more space and time for encaustic painting. I'm most interested in collage and excited about incorporating some of my amassed cast off pieces of tin. Talk about random! I'm afraid this paralysis is going to bring the painting thing to a screeching halt. When I'm making jewelry, I at least know that the final product has to look and function like, say, an earring. That's a huge jumping off point which greatly narrows the parameters. In painting there literally is just a blank canvas. Or, in the case of encaustic, a blank piece of 1" x 6". Scary.

So, anyway, long story longer--I decided to go out to my new little painting space and destroy a book. I've had several old ones sitting around for ages specifically for cutting up to use in collages. Each time I pick one up I flip through it and think, "I'm not really sure how I would use this illustration or piece of typography, so I guess I'll just leave it until I have a plan." Seeing Lance's work again yesterday made something click. I realized he wasn't sitting around in his studio with all his cool books neatly filed on his bookshelves waiting to be taken out one by one for him to extract a quarter inch wedge of a circle and then gingerly put back in place on the shelf. It finally registered that I would never effectively collage until I had a critical mass of material out and about to play with and draw from.
So, I did it. I put the book on the cutting mat and I sliced the spine right off. I have to say, I don't like destroying books, but I did like seeing all those loose pages. Once I had deboned it, I stood there in the midst of a long "What now?" moment. I shuffled through the pages a bit and almost randomly grabbed the 7 page 'Q' section. My painting spot is right next to my jewelry spot and my disc cutter was sitting right there. I've used it every now and then on paper and it works better if I cut multiple pages at a time. Here was my chance to force randomness! I binder clipped the pages so they wouldn't shift around and  starting in one corner, cut a 1 inch circle and then moved to the next spot and then the next. I had to really fight the urge to look through the cutter and line up more aesthetically pleasing cuts, but I managed to do it. Here's what it all looked like once I finished.

For yucks I laid out the circles (randomly!) on a blank board to see how it looked. I'm not sure yet how it's all going to come together, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be uncomfortable. I think they call that work. Pictures will follow when I figure out how to tame all this randomness.


ArtPropelled said...

Glad i found your Upcycled Board. (Mine is called Lost & Found). I also love Letscher and El Anatsui. Wonderful that you could see the art in person. Slicing the covers off books hurts! I still havn't been able to bring myself to do it..... but it will happen one day.

adaptive reuse said...

Thanks for getting in touch. I love your Lost & Found board and found a few others to follow as well. I have to admit, I've not sliced off any more covers. It is HARD!!