"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Who Dusts?

Sorry, it’s been a while, I know. Summer was a busy one, but, I’m back now, and I have a question.

From my personal library I am re-reading a very excellent art book called Art Making & Studio Spaces by Lynne Perrella. It is a showcase of 31 artists and the places they work their individual styles of magic. Eye-candy to the max. Loads of ideas. But...

Each of these studios is crammed with stuff—supplies, books, baskets of fabric or paint tubes, collections of figurines, seed pods, chunks of wood, toys, personal shrines, artwork of their own and by other artists, ephemera...just about anything an artist needs for work or inspiration. In almost all of them there is not one inch of table, shelf, or cupboard space that is not covered with something. And in every studio there was not one speck of dust. Nary one spider web clinging to a corner of the ceiling...nadda.

Now, I realize that in a photo shoot for a book you would clean your studio to within an inch of its life, and they probably had a set decorator or stylist to help arrange things in more photogenic ways...but what about the rest of the time? These places would be dust magnets. Who is going to go around and dust bits of dried grasses, tiny Simpson figurines, or shelves full of Day of the Dead statues? Really. It’s a duster’s nightmare.

And no spider webs? Come on. Not one? Spiders would love these places. Hideouts galore. Maybe they were there and camera shy...but the webs should have shown up somewhere. An artist studio without one spider seems a bit too sterile for me somehow.

And don’t get me started on flooring. Carpet...in a studio? Seriously? Even if your art form is sewing or quilting, I know from experience that pins love to hide in carpet, and are only found by me stepping on them. In one studio it looked like, under a table with drips of paint dried to its edge, was what looked like pristine beige carpet. So, where did all those paint drips go? Does this person go to all the trouble of putting a big drop cloth under the table when she works, and then pulls it away the rest of the time? Seems like a lot of work. Why not just have a paint-friendly floor in the first place? It’s a studio, after all. The floor is meant to get grubby and paint-spattered.

So, that’s my question. When the camera crew is gone, and life goes back to normal for these artists....who dusts?