Mierle Laderman Ukeles famously challenged the low status of maintenance work – both domestically and also in society. I learned about Ukeles while researching during graduate school several years ago before becoming a mess-managing mother and a professional “maintenance artist” myself.
For almost twenty years, I have been on a progressive trajectory of honing my creative and community development skills and growing a greater capacity to tackle complex ideas and projects. Full stop. Now, my days are spent moving from one room of my home/studio to the next following two adorable toddlers who delight in upending neatly curated bookshelves or scattering Cheerios on freshly mopped floors. More challenging is that they also seem to fill, distract and interrupt every attempt at creative and critical thought. My delight has always been envisioning new ideas, generating fresh programs, and making things. Presently, simply thinking (during a drive, while washing dishes, or on the toilet) is now insurmountable.
For the perpetual series,”Picking Up” I have replaced rage with documentation. It is a practice of pausing and memorializing the objects and little hands that form, pile, and deconstruct. By reverse engineering my creative process, I have made space to not only enjoy the process of “maintenance” but also find a fresh way to collaborate with my children.
Originally posted on The MOPS Blog https://blog.mops.org/reverse-engineering-creativity/
“Picking Up: The Perpetually Wounded”
Band-Aids, paper clippings, broken painted horse, scissors, magnet “X”, orange sharpie cap
“Picking Up: Desk Edition”
blue tape, star stickers and doll, legal paper, scratch paper with grandmother’s handwriting, post-its with Ava’s handwriting, unused stamps as stickers, scanner template, wood for antique Noah’s Ark, paper blind tabs.
“Picking Up: Cottenelle”
Wad of de-rolled toilet paper
“Picking Up: Fairy Tales and Choo Choos”
Play-Doh bits, hair gel marker, glitter, Cinderella sticker base, horse, red button, maker cap, toy train, gifted yard “flower”, cookie cutter