In the morning, Ruby is sitting on my desk and waiting patiently for her wig. Taken by her beauty, I stop mid-stride on my way to the desk and admire her smooth, pretty profile bathed in the grey light of the studio. I’m loving the soft lines of her features and her delicate chin and I reach outÂ impulsivelyÂ and stroke her silky cheek with my index finger. As usual, I feel a small pang of regret of having to part with her soon, but quickly chase it away. I can’t allow myself such sentimentality – it’s a slippery slope for an artist.
Making a wig is a messy work. The glue ends up all over my hands and the doll’s head, but the upside is that I don’t have to use any protective surfaces for the doll because glue, no matter how sticky, can not damage a china-painted, porcelain surface. I just scrape it off the face with my metal carving tools once the wig is done and that’s the end of clean up.
My wigging system requires that for the best quality wig, I spend about half an hour holding the strands down in strategic places while the glue sets. This frees up my mind and leaves me with plenty of time to think while both my hands are busy. I get comfortable in my Thinking leather arm chair accented with brass studs, put my feet up on the matching ottoman and with Ruby on my lap, and with her little head in my hands I return to my recurring, unsolvableÂ dilemmas.
……Minimalism vs Excess.
Moderation seems to be the right answer to a lot of things, but not a day goes by without a struggle with my ambivalence towards being an artist who makes objects, thus contributing to consumerism. When I create another doll, I always feel a little guilty of adding more physical clutter into our clutter-filled world. I keep trying to rationalize it by telling myself that the need to create things is a part of human nature. We’ve been crafting stuff with our hands, attributing great value to physical objects Â and hoarding them since the dawn of evolution. It’s been the way of things ever since we grew a big brain and two opposable thumbs.
But with the coming of industrial revolution and modernization of manual labor, our relationship to our valued possession and objects has changed. They became simple to mass produce, readily available and easily disposable andÂ replaceable. A lot of those object make our life easy and enjoyable. I for example, don’t remember how to live without a microwave and I don’t have to spend most of my energy on basic survival. I am largely freed from domesticity and can dedicate my life mostly to the pursuits of creative and intellectualÂ fulfillment and pleasure. And here I am, creating and crafting objects for thatÂ fulfillment. Why?
I despise clutter. I despise gift shops with cheap trinkets and pointless nicknacks. I can’t stand hoarding and never own more than one functional bag (not a purse) at a time. Who cares whether it matches my shoes or not? That’s not what happiness is, no matter what those shallow broads on Sex and the City are trying to sell me. I wonder how many girls that show has simultaneously, liberated,Â emancipatedÂ and damaged?Â But strangely enough, I love watching it. Like a car wreck, I suppose. For the record-I hate Carrie.
When the glue in the wig is set, I leave it for several more hours and then wash and brush the hair. I put it back on Ruby while it’s still wet and watch droplets of water run down her forehead as I take this snapshot. She is lovely and I feel another pang of regret.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love possessions. I love comfort and beauty of interior design and I love some expensive things. But I absolutely don’t own what I don’t need. Having said this, I believe that one can not use moderation when it comes to art. Art must be what it must be, and I love extravagant art. My constantÂ dilemmaÂ with who I am isÂ whetherÂ I’m contributing to the problem of rampant, pointless consumerism, or if I’m somehow adding to the beauty of the world with what I create. Perhaps I’m doing both and I can’t help myself. I can’t stop doing what I do because I’m in love with the process of creation.
But If I must make things with my hands, if I can’t live any other way, then I must make them in a meaningful way. The universe is a fantastic creation that appeared out of the void. If I’m going to add objects to that universe, then I have Â an obligation to honor it with my creations, not clutter it with thoughtless, meaningless, cheap, disposable and forgettable trash. The objects I make, must be more than things-they must become meaningful experiences for people. That’s the only way to justify our possessions. My dolls must enhance theÂ quality of life in some small measure in order to validate their existence. And I vow to do that.
Ruby is complete.
Reminder, this Ruby will be put on eBay on November 25th