Saturday, September 22, 2018

Down to the Nub: Trash Talking Art

You can really wear yourself down sometimes. Especially when everything around you seems to be worn out. Cars, clothes, music etc. Sometimes I catch myself eking out the very last possible amount of usage whether its leftovers in the fridge, or especially when it comes to art supplies. Toss-up as to whether it's attributable to frugality or simple laziness, but the backside of every single piece of scrap paper is valuable real-estate.

This instinct dovetails with a perennial problem in the classroom, that of witnessing countless pieces of student work left behind. I wind up trashing so much of it when it comes time to turn over the flat file storage drawers in the drawing studio and make room for each new incoming semester's crop of aspiring talent. Real estate being rather a precious commodity amongst shared workspaces on campus, it's rather an unfair predicament having to be the one to throw away piles of pieces - many of which came from your own classes. Guess that makes a definitive and final statement on the perceived self-worth of one's own work. All that time + effort though... perhaps it's more of a reflection on our throwaway, consumerist culture, in conjunction with being young (or on student loans) and not really knowing the true value of things, whether the financial cost of materials and/or art that serves as benchmarks on progress - a perspective that gains in richness over time.

Mind you I have no compunction when it comes to purging my own stuff, whether it be by fire or relegated to the dumpster. But after making an effort to remind them via email and/or phonecall, out it goes. Very rarely do I make an exception and move the portfolio to my office, but that's just a temporary reprieve as space is severely limited, and my position as an adjunct is tenuous. But I am always grateful for the second-hand art supplies, which get farmed out among folks in need - even the teacher.

Speaking of wearing away, one indicator of a good semester is when the ID sensor on my iPhone doesn’t recognize my thumbprint anymore when it gets worn away from constant pushing in/pulling out of push-pins. I estimate around several thousand push-pins get stuck into the walls over the course of a six week session, putting up, rearranging and taking down samples + student works. For example there’s about 500 holding up the works currently on display in the hallway showcases (and yes, just for the purposes of this post I actually remembered to stop and count them). Besides aching knees after standing on concrete floors around the clock, and maybe a hoarse throat from hours of lecturing, that's about the extent of any physical effects from the job. Otherwise the workout happens between the ears... it's all mental.

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