Posts Tagged ‘mistakes’

Art Bugs

Tonight I dis­cov­ered that a cou­ple of box­es of art sup­plies and art objects in my stu­dio spare bed­room art room were infest­ed with the car­cass­es of many, many small lar­vae-type bugs. EW. I thor­ough­ly grossed myself out pick­ing thru to see what was sal­vage­able. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a hand-felt­ed wall hang­ing, a felt­ed rock made from my friend’s dog’s fur, and pos­si­bly some wood­en box­es were among the objects that were beyond repair. Bugs eat nat­ur­al fibers, who knew?

This is actu­al­ly not the first time I’ve had an art bug prob­lem. Let me recount for you the times I should have learned my les­son.

1. Honey is Sweet

In the first assign­ment of the semes­ter for Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor gave us three yards of muslin and instruc­tions to use ONE oth­er mate­r­i­al to cre­ate a sculp­ture. I cut my muslin into 5″ squares and chose hon­ey as my sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­i­al, stack­ing the fab­ric one piece at a time like a hon­ey-muslin lasagna. It turned out pret­ty awe­some, but then the hon­ey dripped onto the floor and the local ant pop­u­la­tion moved in.

Photo on 1-30-13 at 9.47 PM #2

2. Peter Paul Reubens and The Gathering of The Beetles

Lat­er in the Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor took us to see the Peter Paul Reubens car­toons at the Rin­gling Muse­um and asked us to recre­ate an aspect of the  paint­ings out of fiber mate­ri­als. I chose Gath­er­ing of The Man­na, recre­at­ing the burlap bag held by the crouch­ing fig­ure at the bot­tom. My twist, though, (and I can’t believe I did this) was to fill the bag with manure that I dug out of the New Col­lege com­post pile. Ahem. Do you know what lives inside manure that has been decom­pos­ing in a com­post pile? Lots and lots of bee­tles and creepy-crawlies.


3. Regina and the Resin

Anoth­er artist who shared my stu­dio space was doing awe­some cast­ing work with resin and soaps, embed­ding things like hair and My Lit­tle Pony parts. She had a bunch of pieces cur­ing — or so I thought — near the sink in a tup­per­ware con­tain­er, so I lift­ed the lid to take a peek. The objects which had not ful­ly embed­ded in the resin this time were chick­en hearts. Upon expo­sure to light and air, squirmy lit­tle white crea­tures (I will not say the name) that feast on rot­ting, non-ful­ly embed­ded organ­ic mat­ter swarmed out. SHUDDER.

4. Frog Tonics

I did a whole series of small bot­tles with linocut labels. They were filled with var­i­ous odd objects such as teeth, wool, hair, and well, a frog skele­ton I found in the library park­ing lot. Let’s just say there is a rea­son that peo­ple bleach bones before mak­ing art out of them. Luck­i­ly, this issue was well-con­tained in the bot­tle, and the bot­tle is now well-interred in a land­fill some­where.



5. You’re Bringing What in Here??

In my New Col­lege senior the­sis show, I used hay bales in lieu of sculp­ture stands to dis­play my work. I remem­ber Gail, my advi­sor with whom I had a love/hate rela­tion­ship, ques­tion­ing me with a frown. “You’re bring­ing what in here??” she asked. Three weeks lat­er, I was bat­tling ant colonies and bee­tles as I cleaned up. (Oh and yes, that is a giant horse hide shown below).



As much as I hate to admit it, Gail’s and oth­ers’ con­cerns about the mate­ri­als I used in my art were war­rant­ed, and not just from a bug per­spec­tive although that is cer­tain­ly an issue as I dis­cov­ered today. I have mul­ti­me­dia pieces where I used wood glue to attach mate­ri­als to the sur­face, and the glue has yel­lowed in an unpleas­ant way. I have paint­ings that incor­po­rate latex rub­ber which is now dry and crack­ing. My encaus­tic pieces have suf­fered a good deal of dam­age over the years being moved from one house to anoth­er, and while some are repara­ble, oth­ers are not. And some have cloud­ed due to sun expo­sure.

I don’t know that I would have done it dif­fer­ent­ly, entire­ly. I embrace the idea that art, like life, is tem­po­rary and fleet­ing and prone to decay. Joseph Beuys, who is my most inspi­ra­tional artist of all time, talked about how his sculp­tures are not fixed and fin­ished such that “every­thing is in a state of change”. I’m not inter­est­ed in hav­ing a lega­cy as an artist (so, like, the stuff does­n’t have to hold up until 2179 or any­thing). Part of the rea­son I am no longer much of a prac­tic­ing artist is that I can’t bear to keep bring­ing things into the world and to become respon­si­ble for where they go and how they last. But, in some small way I want to acknowl­edge that Gail was right, and that she was not just pick­ing on me or being mean like I thought at the time. I made that felt piece with my hands, first card­ing the raw wool for hours and hours and then felt­ing it on the dri­ve­way out­side the sculp­ture stu­dio with a hose and a lot of Dr. Bron­ners soap. It had to stop exist­ing at some point, but at the hand (mouths) of bugs? That just kind of sucks.

Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: adventures, making
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.