Saturday, August 12, 2017
Home Depot, Colors, Cardboard, and What it Means to be an Artist
Sometimes, I am a fine artist, especially if the standards which a piece is considered fine art is abstract and subjective. For example, my stick figures are really nice if I choose to consider myself a minimalist and if my audience appreciates minimalism. Perhaps, if I put two complementary colors adjacent to each other on a canvas, it would classify as a Color Field painting. Of course, the validity of my assertions about art depends on ones qualifying factors of artwork and the standards that must be met to be deemed an artist. I admit I’m not a real fine artist, and my stick figures are not as stick figure-ish as they could be. At heart, and by practice, I’m a creative writer and the pictures I create are most vivid when they are illustrated by narrative and poetic devices, but Veronica looks past my visual artistic shortcomings and that’s what I love about working with her.
Not too long ago, we went to the Home Depot in South Philly to pick out warm and cool color templates for the More Stately Mansion Exhibition’s free Zine (which my poetry will be featured in, by the way). Though my co-intern, Emily is a recent Fine Arts graduate (excuse me if my terminology is wrong) and far more qualified to make literally anything aesthetically pleasing than I am, I begged to get my hands involved with the production of the magazine. After spending about thirty minutes in Home Depot being extremely indecisive about which colors to choose and which cool colors I thought looked best with specific warm colors, we headed back to her home where she stationed me on the sidewalk with a large square of card board, all of our color scheme temples, rubber gloves, and spray adhesive. It was early summer when the heat was settling into the air and cementing into the ground. Warm air blew gently semi-frequently, so sitting outside was almost like sitting in a drying machine. She told me to paste the warm and cool colors together and to spray the adhesive at an angle so the wind wouldn’t steal the glue. She emphasized the importance of the template cards being as perfectly parallel against each other as possible, and then, left me alone to start the task.
My calves and thighs trembled from squatting to avoid sitting on the hot pavement. I caked glue onto the board a few times because the wind snatched some of it away. Some of the template cards dried too soon and had to be sprayed again. Some cards dimensions weren’t equal, and subsequently, did not match evenly. There were maybe two-hundred cards to paste to each other, and often, I lost focus due to boredom from monotonous movement. As easy as I thought it would be to stick two colors together, it simply wasn’t. The excitement of being a fine artist softened as I became frustrated with my own incompetence, but I've felt that way with writing too before. Maybe being an artist isn’t always about being in love with your craft, but instead, dedicating yourself to it. Struggling with those templates taught me that, at the very least, being an artist is trying to align and make things come together despite all of the elements working to keep them apart.