Monday, September 24, 2007

Papier Mache, Put Down

I was having a really hard time this weekend. I started about 5 new pieces, and the layering phase always gets to me... it's boring and tedious and makes me question why the hell I chose to work in papier mache. I took it a step further this time around: I starting asking myself the age old question, "why do I do this?" and other light-hearted soul-searching questions, that supposedly you've answered by this time in your life (I'm a late bloomer)...

Thank god I had the presence of mind to take a bike ride, or I might have slashed my wrists...

Anyway, I was looking for some art blogs online, and came across the originally-titled artblog. Now I'm REALLY questioning everything. This older post from 2006 (I'm so cutting edge!) talks about the impermanence of papier mache and doesn't mince any words. Yes, there are papier mache pieces in major art exhibits here... so that's interesting to me. However, if the question is, "what do I want to do with my art?" I'm really going to need to come up with an anwser soon. Because "junk art" is not it. And according to these ladies, papier mache is junk.

Anybody got a razor blade?


Luann said...

Okay, I found your reference to my blog and came to visit. (Thanks, btw!!)

And I found this post about papier mache, and the artblog essay you noted that got you down.

And I have to tell you, several things in that essay annoyed me.

I will address only the one that caused you concern:

Since when is art about PERMANENCE?

I've seen a lot of crap made of archival materials, and I've seen ephemeral work that is so breath-taking, well, it took my breath away. (Andy Goldsworthy comes immediately to mind, but there are others who deal with transient and/or ordinary materials.)

Interestingly, I had to go through a similar process of "validating" one of my chosen art mediums-, too. After all, polymer clay is just plastic.

I finally realized that art glass is just sand, the Mona Lisa is egg whites on a wood panel, and ceramics are just....mud.

Art is not what about what it's made of--it's what you make with the material.

YOU decide if this medium is the one that you can best express your artistic vision in.

And the rest of the world can go hang, okay? :^)

(BTW, I LOVE that you've taken up mountain biking--
you GO, grrl!)

mel said...

THANKS, Luann...
you are so completely right, and you also made me laugh...well said!

I was thinking earlier about a comment a photographer I know once made on the subject of papier mache: that money is just paper, too. And then I realized, so is photography! When I talked about this issue to a potter friend of mine, she looked at one of my pieces, and said, "well, you could do that in clay", and I thought, "But I don't WANT to do that in clay." So I'm going to keep going, and aspire to make powerful work in my chosen medium. ( And keep thinking about people like Andy Goldsworthy...
I remember reading about your issues with mentioning polymer clay up front, when you present work to a new gallery, and I've chosen to downplay the papier mache moniker, going instead for "mixed-media" (some of my work is). But I may choose to claim it more fully someday!

Thanks again; you totally brightened my day and my outlook.