I am an art instructor. In my workshops, aside from instructing students on art techniques, I teach them how to leave a smaller environmental footprint during an art session without sacrificing their enjoyment and the artistic process. I emphasize this in class because, unfortunately, art making can sometimes have quite the impact on the environment. Artists can use a lot of materials that, especially if carelessly discarded, can wreak havoc on our water systems and add to our landfills. I inform students how to clean their brushes, a better way to discard paint (in the trash is better than down the drain) and minimize waste.
Some time ago I started rearranging my studio. I had created a few paintings, drawings and other 2D visual art pieces through the years. A bunch of my creations hang on my walls, I have given away a few as gifts to friends and sold some. But like many artists that use art as a means to make money, I had much more in my studio just stored away collecting dust. These were artworks on paper or canvas that were not quite up to my standards. Since these rejects were taking up space that I wanted to use as a work area, I considered donating them to goodwill. But being someone who cares about her impact on the environment, I could not bring myself to do this. Why? Knowing that the pieces were not quite good enough to sell, that they’d probably end up in the trash even if I did drop them off at the donation centre. So I decided to keep them and put them aside for a bit longer. I pondered what to do with these pieces and after a while it occurred to me that my efforts in creating these sub-par works might not have been wasted, that there was still value in these pieces despite them not being “perfect”.
I started cutting my work up. At first it felt strange to do this to something I made but I considered getting rid of them, so why not? I sliced and slashed several artworks and started ‘Frankensteining’ the pieces together. And out of the pieces I created something better, something that I liked. I kept cutting and assembling and after a while I had several collages made out of my rejected paintings (blotter papers and used paper palettes were included in there as well). The series of collages is aptly titled “No Art Wasted”. So far, NAW (No Art Wasted) has been exhibited in two small group shows and I am hoping that it continues to be picked up for display and shared with the public not for its visuals, but also for what the series stands for.
This experience I now share with many of my students in class. Partly because many of them lament on how much time is spent on practice and creating “ugly” work before getting good at a technique and getting a decent piece of work from their efforts. It is also shared because it is another way that artists can reduce, reuse, recycle and do their part to keep our planet green.
- Interested in seeing NAW and other artworks from MTM Hobbes? Interested in a workshop? Visit her site mtmhobbes.com.