Is the dignity of the thing in the effort behind it? This is certainly the message we tell ourselves, or at least the lesson we want our children to know. Because it’s a nice idea, an elevating ambition for what it means to be human. But I have my doubts.
I spend a lot of time making failures. They are everywhere, all around me, all the time (and this is only speaking to my personal art, or the art I make by hand, leaving aside entirely the issue of graphic design, which is a wholly different kind of poisonous cognitive dissonance). In my studio, I can step in any direction and pick up a failure and hold it in my hands. I can close my eyes and feel the failure in it, these tiny vibrations of best-before-ness, either idea or execution gone sour.
There is nothing ennobling about this feeling.
Art, like Nature, does not care about effort, about how hard you tried, about how much you believed. Whole artistic movements have been resigned to footnotes in the annals of po-faced, fart-sniffing fuckery (although, historically, this kind of purposeful rankness has always increased your chances of getting an arts grant). And when it comes down to individual works, there is no gold star for just using lots and lots of paint.
The only rational response to this is collage.
Collage lets you off the hook. It lets you have fun again. It is mad-scientist time. Collage is pure experimentation under (some) formal restrictions, like calling a meeting with a six year-old enforcing Robert’s Rules of Order. Every idea is entertained with the tacit understanding that it is probably shit. But the things that click will do so most obviously, in that quick way that makes you snort and smile.
Anyway: I’ve been doing a lot of collage lately. Here are three.
don’t neglect winter chills / mixed media on masonite / 9 x 12 inches
an escapist picture of the universe / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9.5 inches
speaking in poems / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9 inches