I remember when I threw out a sculpture that I had made. It was a six foot by eight foot canvas with five silhouettes of women made out of latex painted on tree trunks. I painted about twenty coats of liquid latex on top of each other in the shape of women. Whether it was ninety or twenty degrees, I was outside in my cut off jeans or flannel shirt and parka painting coat upon coat on tree trunks. I felt that the figures represented a rich texture of women from all over the world going to the market to provide for their families. They had a common bond of nurturing and motherhood that transcended national boundaries. I was delighted to see the layers of colors unfold as I peeled the shapes off the trees.
When the piece was finished it hung high on my wall for years. Then, I moved things around and found the canvas close to my desk. That’s when I noticed an odor coming from it. It made me feel weakened and slightly nauseated. Oh no! The latex was toxic! Not only did I not want it close to me, but I didn’t want to sell it to anyone in case they had the same reaction. It went out into the garbage. Yes, hours and hours of planning, painting and peeling only to end up in the garbage. But it was the right thing to do. I would have like to sell it, but not since I believed it to be toxic. I was in the process of experimenting working with this material. The decision was made – no more work with latex in this form.
I try not to be too invested in the final product as a symbol of my accomplishment. The process and what I learned about composition, shapes and my voice have to be enough because you never know when it will need to be thrown away. Although energy changes it always exists as energy, and in this case, my creative energy continued to express itself in other forms.