The Power of Inventory

Polihali Beach, ©2007, 9" x 12," handmade paper and raffia This past week I've been looking for the origins of my own artwork so I can create a database, in other words, I'm doing an inventory.

The word "inventory" is close to invention, don't you think? One dictionary says that it comes "from the Latin inventus, pp. of invenire "to find" (see invention)."  I've tried to do this "finding" in the past and always abandoned the effort, overwhelmed by what feels like the task of herding cats.

Tropical Reverie, ©2010, H. Hunter, fabric, 9" x 12," paper on paper

I tried to keep an open mind though, even as I asked myself  "when did I create this picture? And what was I thinking about anyway?" I must have wondered about all this in less than a whisper,  because my husband abruptly asked, "why are you doing this?"

Good question--one that deserves an answer.

As each year collects itself like a growing season, bringing in a harvest, artwork accumulates. The more it piles up, the less I remember about its origins. So, I realized, in an odd way, I was rewriting my own history as an artist.

In Spite Of, ©2009, 12" x 12" x 2," paper, fabric, foil on panel

It was a surprising thought, one that buoyed me up and reminded me of something else my husband had said earlier: "You're sewing yourself into the universe everyday. Otherwise you won't feel a part of it and you'll be out of it, ill at ease and maybe even dis-eased."

A wise person, my husband. I thought he'd nailed it.

Since then, what began as something of a forced march has turned into a wonderful wild scavenger hunt--one requiring the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes as clues pop up in the oddest places; a misplaced file, photographs hidden in plain sight on i-photo or a picture hanging in the corner of our meti-dia-beading (short for meditation, dining and beading) room.

It may take me another two months to complete this, but at the end, I imagine that I'll have a good list of "what is found"--from Medieval Latin inventorium--and the pictures to prove it.

Mending Wall 6, detail, ©2012, H. Hunter, 12" x 38," watercolor, paper on panel