Ruth Mergi Ketubah Circles Multilayer

Work in Progress

Oh, this piece... Always work, and always in-progress:

I have been working on this one for... Oh god knows how long. Wars have been fought. People have been born and died. And weddings -- there have been so many weddings!

Wonderful, all the weddings! I love the pace and the intensity of the wedding work.

But this is different. And it's dear to my heart, endlessly unifinished though it may be.

I suspect that I am not alone among artists in having a brilliant track record for imagining, conceiving, beginning, progressing, and yet never finishing some of our best work.

I am going to finish this one, though. I don't know if it will turn out to have been worth the time or effort. And it's taken quite a lot of time. And effort.

Really, that's part of the beauty, for me. In the doing, in the taking of time, in the application of energy. It's not necessarily that the work is mediative or satisfying: Sometimes it is, sometimes I lose myself in the flow, get a glipse of the vast expanse of nothingness beyond.

But sometimes -- OK, most of the time --it's just work, and I slog through.

Tiny little cuts, measured only in milimeters, that nobody can even see. Why? I could have done this at a much larger scale. Made an impact. What possible purpose does it serve to make tiny cuts that nobody can even see?

How many hours? I've lost count. I'm not the fastest papercutter out there, that's for sure. And the design -- can we even call it a design? -- what's going on there, anyway?

I suppose that if I wanted to be taken seriously, if I wanted my artwork to be taken seriously, I ought to give a grander explanation. I should tell you this is an exploration of the tension between postmodern conceptual sensibilities and modernistic goodledygook.

Just words.

Here's the truth: I don't know why this is what I've chosen to create. Because this is what I happened to sketch on a day I happened to be inspired.

But I sense that a purpose is served, even if I don't know what it is. Something's going on here.

Let me tell you a secret: There is some philosophy at work here. I'm reaching for something universal, in all my studio work. I want to reach you wherever you are, old, young, in the suspended space beyond culture and identity. Lately I've begun to wonder how one distinguishes between reaching for something higher, on one hand, and pandering to the lowest common denominator, on the other.

But mostly? I just wanted to do this. To see if I could. To push myself, milimeter by milimeter, moment by moment. Just because.

Don't tell the Art World, but "just because" may turn out to be a very good reason, indeed.

So I will finish this one, you will see. And it will be beautiful. And maybe that is purpose enough.

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