Thursday, May 6, 2010
Grab bags -- good or bad?
She said she would like to do some fiber art when she got home, but had no idea what kind. She was envious of all my miscellaneous stuff and thought that if I would send her a grab bag every now and then, that would fuel her imagination and encourage her to make some fiber art.
I said I would, but I did so with trepidation. Much as I love working with other people’s discards and leftovers, I think it’s hard to get from that point to substantive art. The problem with grab bag inspiration is that the work is usually one-off, and you know my opinion that substantive art is generally achieved by working in series.
True, sometimes artists come upon grab bag troves, for free or at the flea market, that contain enough goodies to sustain a series. We’ve all heard stories about finding a whole carton of old gloves, or thousands of buttons, or a suitcase full of old photos. You can do a lot with dozens of something, exploring new ideas and refining them into a coherent body of work.
It so happens that I have a flea market trove of old photos that are available for art, and I have used these photos to make three grab bag challenge pieces. The jury is still out on whether this series is substantive or just sentimental, but I think it has potential, and will probably keep it up, if only once a year for the grab bag challenge.
I’ve sent her first learning project, which has to do with stitching. So I’m going to make her a grab bag of threads and base fabrics she can use in this project. Plus some other goodies that I hope won't send her down the road to junk art perdition. Sure, it might be more flashy to send her a packet of angelina fibers, except that wouldn’t push her in the direction of serious art, and besides, I don’t own any angelinas to begin with, thank heaven. (Talk about junk art!!!) (Apologies to those who make serious art with angelinas, if such folks exist.)
I’ll post soon about the learning project; maybe you’ll find something interesting there too.