Paving the Road To Nowhere

Accomplishing things always feels good.

At the end of a project like last week’s I feel good and productive. That feeling may lead me to want to finish something else quickly to keep that feeling going.

The rush to have something finished is unproductive in its own way, though. I see some artists who get so focused on having something new to show that they never slow down to produce something that might maximize their talents.


The way I work, this is a particular issue. My raw materials are pre-made things. Without them I can’t finish anything. In addition to that I’ve found that trying to predict the materials I’ll need for a final piece (and therefore working from step 1 to the finish in linear fashion) never works out. I need options. Messes like this happen because I can’t imagine the perfect piece to solve a puzzle before I see it and have to try out 50 before making up my mind (if then).


The result is that sometimes I have to commit myself to going nowhere. I have to decide to make things for which the end goal is hazy, if it exists at all, just to have something to file in the back of a cabinet somewhere to be found 2 years later.


Sometimes I have to make things to go into the things I make to go into things I make to go into the final piece. I don’t know how many times these things will be processed, which will get accidentally destroyed, which will surprisingly “make” a piece, and which will be thrown out because they just didn’t work in the context I tried to use them in.


This weekend, I consciously put aside the idea of continuing to work on stuff I might finish quickly because the last project depleted my stocks and I needed more fodder. Some of the designs I started using in the last month worked and I could see them being useful for quilts I won’t even start until next year or beyond. That’s what these are (not all of them are from this weekend, but all are pieces I made in the hopes they’d help something else).


I do NOT mean this as some sort of “the journey is a reward unto itself” cliche. Taking these breaks where nothing final gets produced annoys the living hell out of me. Not knowing where I’m headed with these makes me feel adrift. The point is that conceiving and pursuing a single, unified goal assumes a level of control I don’t think it’s natural to have. Some people can accomplish great feats by that method, but more often my experience is that those who pursue such things limit their own conception. Entropy is the guiding force of the universe, and working against it only creates heat.


My alternative is to embrace chance. Instead of trying to limit it, I try to work within it’s confines. I don’t know what I’ll need when I need it. I may not even recognize what’s going to work right up until after a project is done. Taking weeks or months to produce a wide range of “useless” crap increases the odds that what I need is where I need it when I stumble upon it on the route to a more certain end point. Taking risks and being willing to fail allows for probability, entropy, may ultimately work in my favor.


Ultimately, seeing those chances bear fruit is the most rewarding part of this practice to me. It’s what makes the finished product so rewarding and it’s why I put up with these half-finished, unpolished pains in the asses.




2 Responses to “Paving the Road To Nowhere”

  1. Man, I really love your work. I’m gonna have to save up to buy something. I really like the green one with the decal-ed edges. It works its way towards a fractal-led image and effects a vibrating energy. The hexagonal tiles I miss. In construction no one uses them anymore for showers and such. As an art piece it promotes a meditative quality for me. It is both moving and still, if you know what I mean. I woke up thinking of a large, blank squarish canvas with the slightest s-curve along its edge and even thought of the title, “Gentle Swastika”. Then I realised it’s because of the crazy stagger whomever installed the ceiling tiles above me didn’t work from the center of the ceiling out.

  2. […] (the childrens’ illustration of the 7th down), to imposed relationships between different abstract patterns (patterns themselves being an intricate series of relationships between parts- 4th and 5th piece […]

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