I’m not sure when I started her. How can I say when these things begin? Is it when I start taking steps towards making a tangible object? The earliest photo I have is from late 2018, but by then she was pretty far along. Is it when the idea first appears in my head, having arrived from who-knows-where? I was writing about her in late 2017.
And what about when it begins as one thing and turns into something completely different? What then? Who’s to say she wasn’t always a swarm of smaller sculptures waiting to happen? She had a name, but I have forgotten it.
It was mid-February when I started taking her apart. I’d moved everything into the new studio a few weeks before that, and had finally done enough unpacking to begin to feel at home. I was grieving, like I do when something ends. Like I do, for longer than most people would say is reasonable. Like I do, even when it’s been over for years and life is actually not so bad. I sometimes think that when-life-is-not-so-bad is the best time for grieving.
Anyway: I was enormously sad, and I started taking her apart. Here she is, without her lower half, without her back.
I made a couple of smaller sculptures with the wire I salvaged, plus other things I found around the studio – a handful of blue beads, an assortment of washers and springs, a worn wire brush that someone left behind after cleaning a furnace.
And I started to feel a little less bereft. And I made a couple more.
And then we were in the middle of a pandemic. Remember the year you thought you were going to have? Kiss it goodbye.
I kept making little sculptures until I had used up all the salvaged wire. As I worked, it seemed more and more appropriate to be giving up the thing I had thought I would be doing. They had names, these smaller sculptures. They had names, but I have forgotten them. By the time I finished, I wasn’t sad about the same things I’d been sad about when I started.
People sometimes ask me how long it takes to make a sculpture. The answer is: however many years I’ve been alive when I finish it. This swarm of little sculptures took me 52 years.