The sap is beginning to rise out here in the Chihuahua desert, there’s actual warmth in the air and my basement dungeon of an apartment is beginning to thaw out. That has nothing to do with the rest of this piece, I just think it’s nice to feel my toesies again. (If I haven’t mentioned it before, spring in the desert is magical and everyone should get to see it at least once.)
I have been thinking a lot lately about what I’m ultimately trying to accomplish with what I make. I make, or at the very least, try to make, a variety of artworks. They cover a wide scope of media, so how can I possibly reconcile them to one another and move forward and grow as an artist? I think I’ve come up with a very simple answer. Perhaps it is too simple, but I plan to put it to the test.
My mantra of late has been this: Make something Good, make something Whole.
The first part. Good. What makes a piece “good”? When I say I want to make something Good, I’m not making a quantifiable statement about its quality. No matter what I do, there is someone out there who can definitely do a better job. Drawing, painting, writing, sewing, it doesn’t matter, I’m not the best of any of it. This is fine because it doesn’t play into my equation of figuring out whether or not something is Good.
Does anyone else enjoy the finished product? Did I at least enjoy making it? Then it is Good. I’m not going to waste my time measuring the quality of my work against others.
The second part is a little harder for me to explain. Wholeness. Is the project I have just completed a finished thought? Have I said everything I wanted to say? My hope is that if anyone judges my work, whether they like it or not, that I was able to give them a finished piece so they can make that judgment confidently. There is nothing worse than someone disliking something I’ve made, and responding with excuses about how it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind anyway. I’ve done this on at least one memorable occasion. I failed to get into an art show because I presented half-finished work that I didn’t even really believe in. It was embarrassing to get that rejection letter back and realize how poorly my apparent lack of respect had been received. That’s why I don’t even like to share work-in-progress photos. If I’m going to be judged, I want to be judged for what I really think is my best effort. To me, Wholeness means nothing should be added, and nothing can be taken away. The completed thought is sitting there, unafraid of other people’s opinions, confident in its completeness.
Whatever I do going forward, I will do my best to ensure that it is Good and Whole.