Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair
3 Books, 3 Opportunities to Submit Your Work

Plant a Seed, Nurture Ideas, Time to Prepare for Blooms and Fruit

Pomegranate_TreeBefore starting the actual construction of a piece for an exhibition, I usually read, study, and research background of the topic or theme.  This prepares me for the intensive hours, days, weeks to months creating exhibition work -- in this example, a special Seder plate about planting, growth, nurturing, and realizing the fruits of our labor.

PomegranateThe theme for a past exhibition was Tu BishVat (a lesser-known Jewish holiday) celebrating the birthday of trees. This had me thinking about fruit trees as a metaphor for artists and makers.

There is a Biblical recommendation that newly planted fruit trees should not be harvested before the 5th year.  Thus Tu Bishvat is sometimes called the birthday for trees since this holiday is used as a demarcation for the passing of each year, a very practical recommendation for the future health and productivity of the tree.

If the tree is nurtured for five years before harvesting the fruit, all of the energy and dedication of the caretaker will be realized in the long-term health of the tree.  When the mature tree produces fruit for harvest, it will be more "fruitful" for many years. 

HB Seder Detail1pomegranatetreeThis is a perfect metaphor for budding artists and how they should nurture their creative output.

Artists and makers should take this to heart... I am really serious about this point.

I am concerned especially for emerging artists (of all ages) who expect their early creative pursuits to bear immediate fruit in both money and critical acclaim. A premature expectation for visibility and sales too often influences what is made and how it is made.  I hope they learn to overcome these common mistakes:

1.) Shallow roots. Demands from the marketplace can distract artists and makers from developing substantive skills and meaningful ideas. Sustained personal development produces the best fruit. 

2.) Grafting onto others. It is easy to take other people's ideas, styles, and techniques.  But copying what's been done before never develops the individual voice within each of us.

3.) Premature Harvest - Spending too much time promoting initial work instead of developing and producing more thoughtful, more meaningful work.  I am all for selling, but spending time trying to promote and sell premature work damages the long-term reputation of emerging artists and drains potential energy from more meaningful development and creativity.

I know my words are pointed.  I don't usually say "should", but in this case, it is warranted.

Trying to harvest fruit too early damages the core of creativity and dilutes the energy of individuals who could benefit from experiencing growth over a period of time.  Learning from experience and consciously seeking to improve quality should take precedence over immediate gratification.  Higher quality work may take a few years, but once established, it can be productively sustained for a longer period.


This post was updated on February 27, 2023.