Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Shadow Side of Creation

Rescue or Destroy - August 19, 2014

Destruction is the shadow side of creation. Anything that can be made can be unmade. Last night, two works of art I made were destroyed, hacked to pieces by a large man wielding an axe.

Rescue or Destroy - August 19, 2014

How did things come to this?

A simple answer is that I have completely run out of patience. My reservoir of patience has been drained gradually, after long months of not selling artwork and barely even selling my books. I'm on all kinds of social media, sometimes spending 8 hours a day scheduling updates. But what good does that do me when so many of my Twitter followers aren't even real people, or are only following me because they want me to follow them back?

I have run out of patience with people who say they like my art but never buy anything. I have artwork at different price points, the lowest being my $9.99 art eBooks.  And I take credit cards. But not excuses. Not anymore.

I have run out of patience with people not coming to my events. Doesn't matter if they are on a weekday or weekend, during the day or at night, in the city or in the suburbs, accessible via public transit or adjacent to a large, free parking lot. Doesn't matter if I send out invitations months in advance or at the last minute. Doesn't matter if it's an opening or closing reception, if the work I'm showing is old or new, if it's a solo show or a group show. People aren't coming.

I have run out of patience for the unsold artwork that crowds my studio. I've entered shows to try to get rid of it, but it keeps coming back. The two pieces that got chopped up last night have been around since 2007. Smother has been in too many shows to count, and I couldn't even sell Untitled (Green) on eBay a few years ago. I have begun to feel deeply resentful toward my unsold artwork, seeing each piece as a bill I could have paid, an outfit I could have bought, a trip I could have taken.

And so I decided to risk everything and conduct a crazy experiment. Its premise was simple: do people care if my art gets destroyed?

My findings:

Rescue or Destroy - August 19, 2014

No, they don't.  Well, why should they? I'm not famous. My art isn't worth millions. I'm not represented by a fancy gallery. But I needed to see if somehow, in spite of that, somebody might think that Smother or Untitled (Green) was at least worth the cost of my materials.

Of course, it might have helped if people who like my art, like the ones on my e-mail list or the ones who "Like" my art page on Facebook, had actually been in the audience last night. They could have walked away with original art for as little as $50. But they didn't.

Rescue or Destroy - August 19, 2014

But I knew that my art could get destroyed before going into this. It's a crazy gamble, and I've been taking a lot of risks this year. I needed to see what happened. I was hoping that, whatever happened, I'd come out of this feeling less angry and disappointed. But nothing has changed and I still feel angry and disappointed. But at least now I have more room to make more artwork, which, seven years from now, if still unsold, may be doomed to the same fate as Smother and Untitled (Green).


  1. Aye, Tiffany, please hang in there. You are talented, smart, and willing to share personal history and compassion through your art. What more is needed? Oh money? That! I admire that you chose this path. I am trapped in a full-time job, and not too happily, frankly, so who's to say it is better on the other side. It is a waste of my time doing crap that is not important to me. I dream of being a full-time artist. Ironically, this has made me have similar thoughts to yours - like what can I do to sell? But we can't make art like that. I know you read my post about the letter from Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse. I have to re-read it every now and then. The world doesn't owe you anything (unfortunately), but you owe it to yourself to make your art and write what you feel.

    I know one writer - can't remember who it was - recommended that all writers work part-time. Two reasons: money comes in, relieving some of the pressure, and it lets you see things you wouldn't have that you can then write/make art about! Win-win. It's a thought.

    Anyway, on a lighter note, I had gone to your blog on my phone, left it awhile and went back and had forgotten whose blog I was at. I was fascinated and impressed with the post - the one about Matisse and the surreal objects - and I love your sofa!

    1. Thanks, Dan! I do have a day job, I just don't write about it on here. It pays for my studio, but I want my studio to start paying for itself already so that I can do more things. The good thing is that I keep meeting other artists who've been telling me about some more venues where I can show my work, and hopefully get a better audience.

      The problem with the Rescue or Destroy event that night was the crowd. The audience was mainly drunk people who wanted to see the art destroyed. It would have been different if more collectors had been in attendance. It was a crazy experience, and I don't really regret doing it. Since then I have actually sold 2 pieces.


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