Life gets increasingly complicated over time. I tend to take on multiple little projects, and since I have a day job, I sometimes have to cull my activities so I can refocus on writing.
So thank you to the friend who suggested I should have a crafting room in my new place. I had been thinking of it as a writing room, but it should be more.
Over the years I have undertaken a lot of amateur art projects. Lithographs and artist’s books, pottery and collaged valentines. I like to lose objectivity in the embroidery floss aisle at the fabric store. I have a mild obsession with sewing handbags. For several months, I kept a florid visual journal using colored pencils. I used to take weird Polaroid photographs for kicks (good times, good times). I’m not saying I’m good at any of these things – that’s really not the point – just that part of valuing creativity is that the creative thing tends to leak out everywhere. Packing and moving the detritus of all these projects (or, when I was desperate and out of time, throwing them in the dumpster) forced me to think about the nature of art-making.
And this is my conclusion: art is essentially – well, disposable isn’t the right word – let’s say in transit. It passes from me and out to the world. I don’t mean that the product is worthless. My nephew wore the bracelets until they fell apart, my friends seem to love their valentines (thanks for humoring me, guys!), and somebody at the Goodwill store is going to be happy to discover that bag I made out of batik turtle fabric (uh, I hope). And yes, my mom still keeps all my pottery.
But art, the product, has meaning as we give it away.* It starts life inside us, but it’s really complete when it’s gone into someone else’s head and rearranged things a little.
* Or sell it, if you’re a professional.