Creative Global Network for the Visual Arts

cashflow blockages and other barriers to artmaking

Sarah, my new studio assistant had a lesson in the fiscal perils of the artmaking process yesterday, at the expense of my pride and confidence. It was a good lesson, nonetheless, for both of us. We had planned to go supply shopping for paper at the place i know as heaven on earth, Hollander's Paper, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I wanted to introduce Sarah to the experience of being immersed in a vast store full of handmade papers from all over the world. We got there and found so many wonderful things. She indulged, just as I hoped in the exploration of her own artmaking ideas through the inspiration of all those beautiful fibers. We gathered the papers and new inks we needed in arms and plopped them down on the purchasing counter. I handed over my debit card and the cashier swiped. We waited. Then the bitter word DENIED appeared on the cashier's screen in bold letters. "Try again", I said, confident that this could only be a computer error. DENIED. Not a computer error. I venture to an ATM outside, Sarah on my heels in a tiny skirt and thin tights, and we stand in the winter wind as I attempt to make transfer funds from checking to savings. DENIED. Shit. Damn. Motherfucker. I should not swear. It only exacerbates my reaction. I called the bank, and got a recording. I slunk back into the store, shoulders hung low, and mumble to the clerk that I cannot make the purchase. Crap. My delinquency in closely tracking my checking account balance for the last two months actually cost me a week of work on a body that is due to hang mid-April. Shit. Damn. Motherfucker. Oh. I really need to invest in a new vocabulary. Then I realize I have no cash to pay Sarah for her day of service to me. I do not like to live with debt on my head. So we drive an hour back to the studio during which time I inform her of the fact that I have no money to pay her. She was fine with it, but I was not. So then I got this brainstorm that I could return the bottles left from the last 3 parties at the studio for cash. We got back to the studio, and once again, trudging through snow in her thin tights and tiny skirt, Sarah helped fling bottles into the back of my truck and we drove to the store to return them. In the process of flinging bottles into the back of my truck, a half-filled bottle of 3-month old Guiness spilled down my hand and onto the front of my coat, making me smell like a piece of bread that had been shived up and aged up an elephant's ass for several months. Don't even ask how I have that as a reference for the smell. Anyway, after getting the deposits, we had a grand total of 24.45 USD, which is roughly the amount of money I wasted driving down to Ann Arbor for no reason, except to show Sarah that the artmaking process can be fraught with barriers of all kinds. What's more, I guess the whole thing put me back in touch with what life was like before a salary, when I had to rely on the generosity of my professors and scholarships from school, or lucky finds in the trash, or bartering to get supplies, because I had not a dime to my name. I have gotten less resourceful in my fiscal comfort, and perhaps more wasteful, as well. I have gotten spoiled and a little lazy, and slightly elitist about my materials. Time to reassess. What do I really NEED to make my work with? How does the materialism inherent in the expensive and extravagant papers and inks I use support or reflect the content of my work? Something to think about. Should I learn how to make my own inks and exotic papers?

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