Yesterday, a telecommuter...today a sculptor. And so life goes on. Fifty-four years of age and prematurely forced out to pasture, retired, downsized...or so they think. Little did that once mighty corporation I used to work for know that I had the proverbial Ace-up-my-sleeve, cocked and loaded and ready to launch into orbit at the drop of a rabbit in the hat. How could they have ever known they were dealing with a latent closet sculptor...and a damn good one at that. I've had almost two decades training in this life skill of working with my bare hands to transform the raw into the finished...the unadorned into the magnificent...the humble into the great...the meek to the mighty. My sole medium, why the Styrofoam cup, of course. What else could it have been?
This sculpting started innocently enough. Pulling little pieces off a used cup with my thumb and forefinger at a meeting at which I was bored to tears. Piece by piece, discarding the refuse back into the very vessel which I was disassembling. A very familiar scenario, no? I've seen many others doing it o'er the years. Hey, wait...I have small, razor sharp jackknife in my pocket ...why not get a little bit creative. ''The vorpal blade went snicker-snack.'' ...1982, Styrogami was born. Why didn't I stop right then and there when I started? I don't know. I do know however that I sculpted a second cup shortly after at another meeting. The early ''finished'' pieces, though rudimentary, were cutesy and kind of fun, and besides, I knew I could quit at any time.
By the fall of 1984 I was in over my head. I was no longer just discarding the creations immediately after their completion. I was giving them to fellow earthlings as a gesture of friendship and good will. This didn't last too long before the hoarding commenced. There was an inventory of perhaps a hundred or so to maintain now and I'm not really sure when the lacquer and enamel finishes started, maybe '87 or '88. It had to have been after the protective undercoating was researched and developed. I know it was after the discovery that I could completely eliminate adhesives and work solely with friction and paint as the bonding agents. The added hand detailing in oils and markers certainly didn't hurt their appearance at all. My workshop was starting to look more like a studio. This was getting serious.
1996. It was time to move. My family bought a home in Freeport, Maine. It meant relocating. It meant that the 500 pieces would had to be handled by movers. Like eggs, they were. Fragile as newborn babes. The big decision of whether they would stay or go was looking me square in the eye. Turmoil. Stress. Anxiety. Torment. Angst. Indecision. Storage space. In exasperation I scream, ''Get out the big boxes, Honey...they're coming with us!'' Hello new home, goodbye new garage (I have to put them someplace). These whimsies are being born at the rate of about two per week now...I tell myself I will quit when I start seeing repeats. Well, this hasn't happened yet and it doesn't look like it's ever going to.
A little over a year ago, in the spring of 2000, I took my stuff to the mean streets and offered it up for consideration. A nice little juried exhibit here, a gallery showing there...it started to add up in a demure sort of way. Nothing grandeur. Subtle. I still had my day job.
But now, here I sit, perched on that precipice. Needing a new living and trying to decide whether or not to choose art. I mean, Styrofoam after all. As a columnist once wrote about this artform: ''...clever and technically adept, but is it Art''? I secretly can't stand Styrofoam and ''throwaway'' philosophy that it represents. It is all but banned in my hometown. Restaurants in town can't use it and I don't know if there is a place around that sells it. I guess I've learned to work with the enemy. My meager efforts over the last many years have taken at least a thousand of them out of landfills and turned them into an everlasting thing of beauty.
As for my status as a telecommuter...
I do still work from home, but it's so nice to have the ability to leave my office once in a while now.