Throughout the years, I've enjoyed working in many different mediums and modes of expression. Printmaking, oil painting, watercolor, collage, stained glass, comix, and quilting to name a few. Always branching out, enjoying certain aspects of some and disliking certain aspects of others, I loved exploring all areas of the visual arts. Each new technique or process I worked in eventually led me someplace new, at which point I'd embark on another journey of exploration. Through this process, I've learned a lot and created even more.
Needless to say, after 26 years of creating, I've amassed piles of artworks which have been difficult to store and even more of a challenge to organize. I've given many pieces to friends and family, sold some and trashed others, all of which has reduced the mass considerably. Luckily, I now live in a house which is large enough to contain what's left. The flat pieces live in my studio, the textiles are in various rooms around the house, and the bulkier items such as canvases and product samples are stored in my attic. At this point, storage is not so much of an issue as is organizing.
Although all of my work is in orderly piles, tucked away in closets, and packed neatly in boxes, it still feels like a weight on my psyche. It's a part of me that remains unprocessed, like thoughts that need to be recorded in a journal before they can be fully understood.
Here's another example; I recently finished the huge project of sorting through my old photographs. I had about 30 shoeboxes filled to the brim, which dated back to my years in elementary school. I decided which photos to keep, which to give away, and which to trash, a process which was extremely satisfying to me. Not only was I able to condense them down to about 10 boxes, they now take up less space in my home. Most importantly, they take up less space psychically, leaving me with a clearer mind and a lighter soul (if that makes sense). Taking a visual tour of my entire life over a period of about a week allowed me to gain perspective, to see the big picture. I was able to notice patterns and recurring themes I'd never picked up on before and make connections between seemingly unrelated events. Looking back on my life through my photographs has led me to insights which I would not have had otherwise.
Besides the need to organize my artwork, there's an additional reason I have for wanting to look back on it... what I haven't touched on until now is what I feel is the downside of having explored different modes of expression throughout the years. The downside is that it's prevented me from delving deep into any one area. What I'm left with is a scattering, rather than a cohesive body of work.
What I'd like to do with my loads of artwork, as you may have guessed, is look back at it all as a whole as I did with my photos. By examining these works from the past, I hope to gain insights which will focus and guide future works. In addition to deciding what to keep, give away or discard, I'll take note of some basic info (such as the who, what, why, where, when and how) and attempt to tease out what I like about each piece or series. After sifting through the piles and pinpointing what still resonates with me aesthetically, I'll continue to move forward with my current work, and begin to fold these new elements back into the mix.
So, that's the plan. I'm going to call these entries "A Look Back". Next time you visit my blog you may see some of these posts, and now you'll understand the thought process behind it.
Question: Is your artwork piling up around you? If so, would love to hear how you deal with it. Also, might be fun to do a trade... if you see anything of mine that you like, just show me some pieces of your artwork that you'd be willing to part with and perhaps we can make an exchange. Looking forward to it!