Friday, February 22, 2013

Approach? Avoid? Or...?

As the day ebbs...

Well, I was mainly supposed to be working on the new piece of sculpture I've committed to creating for an upcoming exhibit at WheatonArts, in Millville NJ.  Former fellowship residents of the Creative Glass Center of America program are being invited to participate in this show, and even though I've been a resident glass artist there twice, I was still flattered when I was asked to be a part of this. 


It's been like pulling my own teeth without anaesthesia, to get myself to go downstairs and, oh I don't know, pick up a tool or something, and... what's the word again?  Oh yes -- work. 

Of course, the work is due in Millville next week.  And, as I dimly remember from such efforts in the past, there is always far more to do than I originally expect, even if I think I know exactly what I want to make.  Today, I did manage to drill seven holes through a piece of metal, and have kind of gotten most of the way through attaching a piece of hardware cloth to the copper tubing.  I hate hardware cloth.

Oh God, I'm conflicted about making this.  For one thing, it's just another object to store someplace, when I bring it back from Millville in July or August or whenever the show ends.  (I'm thinking of pricing it at $14, which is less than the copper itself is worth, just to see what happens) (I also titled the piece 'Best in Show', because I think it's so bitterly hilarious)  And as I've already explained, I'm less than motivated to plunge ahead with the effort required to make what will only turn out to be yet another bit of my self-generated burden.  I'd much rather watch old Rita Hayworth movies on TV.

Oddly enough, I seem to 'know' what this piece is about.  A bit of family history, of course -- the source which never seems to fail me.  But knowing which, makes the notion of finishing it just a teensy bit more intriguing.  In a way, because I think I can see the finished work, I'm fooling myself into believing that it's already finished.  This is never a good thing. 

At least I've finally got all the materials I'm going to need, so there shouldn't be any more hour-long shopping trips to Home Despot.  And I've proposed to the show's curators that I deliver the work to them late in the first week of March, giving me almost ten more days to avoid doing any meaningful work on this thing I don't want to do in the first place. 

Meanwhile, I'm in raptures about getting the part I wanted, in 'The Full Monty', even though I still can't bear looking at my naked upper lip in the mirror -- or any other reflective surface, for that matter.  This reaction could be chalked up to some kind of hysteria, if it weren't for the fact that I'm a visual artist, and that looking at things, and seeing things, is more or less my job.  And if I think I look revolting, it's because I look revolting.  And I'm afraid that, even with the noticeable suntan I'll have to get (it's in the script -- thank God there aren't any lines about my character's Abs of Steel...), I'm still going to have more or less the same reaction to my own face.  The only difference being a shift from seeing a pink turtle in the bathroom mirror, to seeing an orange turtle there.

Balancing this self-loathing is the knowledge that I'll have a chance to use the despair with which I've been living, for these last couple of years, as fuel for my character.  And isn't this exactly like what I do with my bitter memories of my childhood -- trying to redeem those awful events by transforming them into the underpinnings for my sculpture?  The nice thing about the theatrical version of this repurposing is this -- there's nothing to store afterwards.

This reminds me of a talk I had with Robin Rice, a writer who was interviewing CGCA fellows about a decade ago.  As is usual when people talk with me about personal things, things like the orphanage come up, and the subsequent abuse in the house with my father's second family.  But while taking with Robin, I tried to make it clear that of course I knew that everybody suffers in life, to one extent or another.  And that, in my case, I was actually fortunate in my misfortune -- left physically intact, with a seemingly inexhaustible store of reliable, easily available creative motivation.  It's just a shame that I couldn't have become a composer, or one of those sculptors whose work I see on Facebook all the time now -- carving detailed depictions of Ganesha, for instance, from a graphite pencil point.

Well, it's time to take the red clothes out of the drier, and the white clothes in, and then wash up the dinner dishes, and get ready to go to bed.  I've got a busy day ahead of me tomorrow, trying to get as much creative avoidance in as possible, before it's time to wash up the dinner dishes and get ready to go to bed. 

Maybe, in the mean time, someone will have done some historical research, and discover that, as the result of some long-forgotten treaty, I actually own several of the larger, emptier counties in the state of Delaware.  Thus ending forever my storage concerns.  I wonder what that would be like? 

 ©    2013                 Walter Zimmerman   


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