Decluttering as Art and Poetry
Artist, Rachel Perry Welty approaches decluttering as art. Recently I saw an insightful and humorous solo exhibit about decluttering and
consumerism at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The artist is Rachel Perry Welty, of Gloucester and New York. On one gallery wall, 16 feet high by 78 feet long she arranged labeled photos of what she has discarded since 2009. As a conceptual artist she discards one item a day and documents it. I was taken with the simple photos and her droll comments that read like haiku. On one wall she illustrated the thoughts and feelings we all feel when confronting our “stuff.”
Decluttering as Art – “Haiku”:
Turn your stuff into someone else’s treasure. Your wearable, but unused clothing can be a bonus for someone less fortunate.
“Crumpled paper Has been in my car…
for a week
Your car needs decluttering too – from a wrapper to a broken tire gauge.
“Chair with damaged leg
Don’t know why we are keeping this.
Even if we fix it we still have a chair I don’t like.
It’s OK to trash something if fixing it is not worth your time and money, or the time and money of a charity.
Cheap and white and ugly
Make something good out of that fashion mistake – donate it.
“Assorted paper shopping bags
Too many to use,
Plus they are all so small.
This sounds like a corner of my kitchen pantry. The bags are “too good” to throw out, but I haven’t found a use for them. Recycle bin here they come.
“Index card and miscellaneous business cards
Found these in a small metal file box
And remember they are from a job search in the late 1980’s
All this information is now obsolete.
Or business cards from a networking event years ago. Time to recycle.
“Plastic zipper case
I used to collect these
But cannot find a use for this.
I have a suitcase full of these plastic bags. Bed linens came inside. I keep thinking I will use them when I pack – and I never do. Non-recyclable, so trash.
I don’t like how this writes
So I decided to get rid of it.
Let go of those old or freebie pens that fight you instead of flow.
No longer need as I am not painting
and don’t want to store them
Sold to Becky K.”
Literally, decluttering as art.
As an artist Rachel is acknowledging that painting is no longer a part of her creative life. Her artist colleague can now make art out of Rachel’s unused clutter. The bonus: Rachel is making room in her own life and space for what she is really inspired to do.
“Old tole tray
One of many in a collection
that covered the yellow walls in bathroom;
Now that we are moving,
I have no place for them.
Spaces change, tastes change, you change. What you once love, no longer stirs you. The love affair with the object is over. It’s OK to let go of artwork and decorative items that no longer speak to you.
As I looked at the more than one thousand photos of what Rachel Perry Welty de-cluttered over the past few years, I could identify with what she was letting go of and her thoughts on the objects – what they meant in the past and mean to her in the present.
Rachel has inspired me.
The fashion mistakes that take-up room in my closet are going to Goodwill before they are out of style.
The supplies for projects I never will do. I have tubes of watercolor paints and paper from a class I took years ago and never continued. I am giving them to a friend who is just discovering the delights of watercolor painting.
The kitchen gadgets that are functional, but I used once for a recipe I didn’t really like are going to Goodwill too. The same goes for special ingredients for that misguided recipe – in the trash.
One item a day goes into the recycle bin, trash or donation bag.
I can do that.
What do you think of Rachel’s approach to decluttering as art?
Do you declutter one item a day? How did it work for you?
How you make decluttering fun?
How to you inspire yourself to declutter?
Add your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.