Recently, ArtSake posted a couple of blog articles asking artists if they ever set aside works of art that still had potential. Many of the responses struck a chord so I decided to take a look at my own habits around putting work on the back burner.
There are many things lying around that have gathered enough dust to earn a demotion from 'work in progress' to 'work I've lost interest in right now' or 'work I'm not sure where to go with yet'. There's a rhinestoned science interpretation I'm still unhappy with, an old piece of weaving ready for upcycling, a tea light casting shadows of scientific data, tiny wordless miners excavating a giant jesus, many many rhinestoned blobs. An exception to the dust-gatherers are all of the living pieces that just take a really long time to settle in and grow, in a sense they are all works that I have to set aside in order to make them at all.
All the work I make starts life as an experiment. Although successful experiments are complete, self-consistent finished products, the word somehow still implies an unfinished state. Perhaps because referring to work as 'experimental' is a way to put aside my fear of failure - if it doesn't look right it's okay, it was just an experiment. In reality, an experiment is more like a chapter in a larger story, questions it answers are balanced by questions it raises. Whether or not shelved experiments make it back into the light of day, they are the catalytic back-story to all that follows.