I am a practitioner of the can-I-have-its, a collector of things. I am the sort who walks through antique shops touching everything, wondering what place these objects could hold in my life. I flip through the ikea catalog and salivate, just a little. I am, indeed, firmly ensconced in the material culture. As a result, I have a lot of stuff, a LOT of stuff. And as an artist, it's worse, because there is always some potential use somewhere down the road for that quirky rusty, something-or-other. In the last months I have been exploring the place of the gift in our culture, and the relationship between faith and fear and abundance and scarcity. I believe that the structure of artificial scarcity is not only self-perpetuating, but in fact, self-catalyzing. What happens when we believe that there is enough? What happens when we act on that belief? So in the spirit of the gift, I am embarking upon a mission to give away the things that I do not need. It is a practice of faith, and an act of rebellion against dominant capitalist culture. Is it a little crazy? Probably. Is it going to be hard? Absolutely. But here I go.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And Now, the Linen Closet

I have this very tall, very skinny closet packed to the gills with towels, sheets, blankets, scraps of fabric, old pillows. Below is an assortment of heaven-only-knows-what—we'll get to that next/later.

I yanked and unstuffed all forms of fabric from the closet into a giant pile on the floor.

I then proceeded to sort it into piles of the following categories: keep which included the sheets I use regularly, a spare blanket or two, towels, the sarong I bought on my trip to Hawaii with my mom 10 years ago (though I may never wear it again, for now it stays via the 'I need it because I love it' clause), gift, return to rightful owner (oops), and the dreaded what on earth am I supposed to do with this? pile. Some time ago I saved my threadbare and shredded mattress cover because I couldn't bear to just toss it, but what does one do with such things? It would make great padding for a dog bed probably—that is, if I had a dog.

Likewise, I found 2 torn sheets jammed in the back behind a balled up tablecloth that I must have saved because I was sure I would eventually use them as scrap fabric. Seems reasonable, right? Well sure, but how long do I keep that pile of torn sheets before admitting that maybe I won't be turning them into fantastic sewn things anytime soon. I still don't want to just throw them away. (I love that terminology, by the way, as if when we're done with something we can just throw it in the general direction of away from us... and poof, gone!) It goes against my nature, and very much against the nature of this project. Our local crafty-recycling mecca SCRAP specifically forbids sheets under their 'fabric and notions' donation request list. Maybe you can help me. Know of somewhere to donate fabric scraps? Of course, as I write this, my mind is already whirling with art project ideas for these. Use what you've got, right? I can't tell yet if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A few easy ones

So here's the fun part, looking through my stuff and finding ways to gift to people I know and care about.

A dear friend of mine is nothing if not orange and 70s floral loveliness. This salad set of my grandmother's gets packed up in a box and sent across the country this week.

Someone I care about a great deal just moved into a new apartment and upgraded from a twin to a full bed. He's been making do with a stack of overlapping twin blankets. Cold nights are coming and I have how many comforters and duvets? Ok, just one extra comforter, but several duvets. In any case, the (now quite faded) forest green comforter that a friend's family gave me when I first left home is covered in the sage green duvet ready to go home with him.

My old television and its speakers left with my downstairs neighbor, and old cowhide that's contributed to a few projects in its day, a leather wallet or two and the like (and has so much potential for great projects. Can one hoard potential? I don't know, but I've sure been trying. Someday I will learn how to make purses, and I've been holding on to this one for that reason for, I don't know, almost 10 years?) Well, this one goes to my dear mother who has a creative endeavor of her own for which she's been hunting pelt and leather scraps.