Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SKETCHBOOK DAYS - Julie - Edition 4, Group 5

I never imagined sitting down to reveal my sketchbook ideas in the early, fragile days of an artwork. But I have come to think of this opportunity to interact with book artists of a like and not so like mind as having a place to go, to become connected, inspired, driven. I also have appreciated seeing all the starts going on that people have taken the time to document. I think that we are adding value to the work by showing how much thought, experimentation and refining goes into a bookwork. Taking the plunge . . .

My title Throwaway, while first bringing to mind all the possible materials I might use, such as the cereal boxes I have been collecting, and the concept of recycling, also has a sad feeling to it. Perhaps what is thrown away is not so much an object but a less quantified something. Perhaps we throw away our time in an obvious correlation, or perhaps we throw away our attention to things that don't deserve it, and ignore more important things that are right in front of us. These sad castoffs affect quality of life for somebody. Political undertones suggest themselves with the middle class in the USA feeling disenfranchised, their retirement funds thrown away by risky lending by the big banks. Worldwide, I am sure there are whole nations, treated cavalierly by the superpowers, whose concerns for a better life are just thrown away. How easy it is to get overwhelmed by this concept!

I am including my sketches for the possible structure here. I hope they are readable. You may see that I am intrigued with the idea of making a cube box that has the appearance of compacted trash. Other artists has used this concept before and done environmental sculpture. Quite striking. One of the things that calls out is the idea of using crumpled paper. I cannot believe I am actually contemplating printing letterpress words and images, then crumpling my work. The very act sounds horribly painful, yet the power of such a message, the feeling of seeing artwork of potential value in this state ought to impact the viewer, don't you think?
The crumpled paper has to be a little bit flattened out to make an accordion fold book that folds up inside the cube. One of the good things about this structure is that it can be displayed standing up and be readable in its entirety. I don't like the thought of doing a book and showing it where you cannot access all the pages because it is under glass. Kind of one of my beefs.

I let those thoughts sit for a few days, while life went on. We are making room for a new (old) double wide type cabinet to come into the shop area, so I was cleaning up and organizing, and yes, throwing away. You know, throwing away anything these days is awfully tough. You feel guilty about adding to the landfill, but you also realize you cannot live in clutter. Why is there so much clutter in out lives? Maybe it is just me, but even beyond the junk mail, the packaging that can be recycled, there just exists too much cheaply made stuff that is liable to break and become obsolete. Planned obsolescence, capitalism, consumerism, ugh. We are adrift in a sea of wasted resources. Not only that, but all the mental clutter that exists because we are super-connected. Back in the 90s ? we used to talk about information overload, It's not going away. We are adapting, somehow. What is getting lost? All these thoughts roamed through my head as I picked up stuff and decided to keep or to throw away. Finally I wrote out my thoughts there on a cleared space:

It seems that there is yet another approach to Throwaway. Will all this get complied into one book? I think I have several books here. Perhaps a series. Possibly the only way to deal with the clutter of ideas and conflicts (structural/visual) this produces in my brain!
Well, thank you for listening. It will be interesting to accomplish this process in such a public way. I sincerely hope this was appropriate and not TMI (Too Much Information.) That could be a pun in a sort of roundabout way.

Julie Russell-Steuart, Iowa, USA


dinahmow said...

Oh! Loud clanging of bells! I spent a lot of time yesterday taking old papers from folders and...consigning them to the recycle bin! Yes, it hurt, but I've already saved a stack of old office stuff.It's a tad counter=productive to "cancel" with one hand and re-shelve with the other! ;-)

Sara Bowen said...

Very intersting, Julie! A lot to think about... I like your sketches (they look a lot like mine) and I'm looking forward to seeing how your work develops. Sara

Vicki said...

The crumpling up of your artwork brings home the message of discarding and salvaging in the one work and the idea that one mans trash is another's mans treasure.