I have an MFA in Painting. One of the great things about getting an MFA in Painting is that you get to paint (a lot) for 2 to 2.5 years in a studio and spend a tremendous amount of time with paints, canvas, tools, sanders, wood, gesso, frames, pencils, crayons and other colorful ephemera. You also get to produce a ton of artwork, most of which is total garbage and the rest of it will only see the light of day for perhaps a few days during your thesis show. That’s when a selected body of your artwork gets displayed in a gallery or museum for the “world” to see. Mostly, the world is your mom and dad, your professors, friends and family and your MFA student colleagues. It goes without say that it’s a momentous day for you to display your works in a space with other like-handled works and that day does go quickly.
Today, I chucked almost all of that work. It’s been sitting at the very top of the storage closet in the yellow hallway of the apartment. Sitting, mostly rolled up, high above the ground on wood planks, wrapped in plastic and labeled carefully. With strong intention, this morning I went up there like some crazy hunter and took those bodies down out of their dark lair and bundled them into large black plastic Hefty bags and tied them up and put them out front. It was weird. The entirety took three hours total.
In the pile of bags outside sits “Empire,” a huge painting (perhaps 10 x 12 feet) of a world ensconsed by a cross. The painting was created on a huge tarp which I hand-grommetted and sewed on a sewing machine so that the whole thing could be stretched taut against the wall with nails or screws. Mostly screws. “Empire” is no longer.
The reality is that this work and about 10 others like it were no longer as soon as my MFA was gotten. I went on to make some more beautiful, persuasive, and technically competent artworks aftewards up until about 2000 when it all fell away. These I have and I won’t let them easily depart from me. If I do, the paintings will end up with friends who knew me then or know me now and who want a piece of that painting-dedicated life I led in the late 1990s.