Collections – The Fine Art of Owing

Failure? Use artistic action to transform your life.

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Eleven years ago my life was in shambles. My studio gallery of art and jewelry was closing after 7 long, hard and lean years. It was my dearest dream, and had collapsed like a house of cards falling in slow yet vivid motion at the beginning of the Great Recession. What to do when your dream dies and there is no new one to replace it?

I had left my career as a textile designer behind to achieve my dream of being a working artist. All that was left after I sold my tools, supplies and all that was salvageable was . . . A pile of un-payable bills. Now what?

I languished in a deep depression, and those piles grew taller. The wording grew more threatening – Urgent . . . Collections . . . Act Immediately . . . Action Will be Taken . . . I withdrew more and more, afraid of the mailbox, not opening bills until they teetered into mountainous heaps on my table.

I had no job, minor child support that basically covered groceries for me and my daughter, and no prospects. I looked at those bills – legal documents in an incomprehensible language – designed to implicate and intimidate – and in a moment of creative clarity I distilled them to their basic components.

What is a bill? A bill is literally a piece of paper with writing on it. What is writing? Words that express ideas and thoughts. What is paper? An artistic medium used to create upon. In that moment I decided to take action in a way that I understood. . . . In a way where I could reclaim my power. Urgent . . . Collections . . . Act Immediately . . . Action Will be Taken.

I took urgent action, acted immediately and created an amazing collection . . .

Using my own language of creativity I tore the bills into little squares and bound them in fine golden wire until I had a small mountain of little packets with words and numbers on them. I submerged them in a tea dye bath until they were a lovely golden tone. When dried, I painted them in hues of soothing blues and aquas, and wrapped them in translucent paper, creating a final transformational boundary of protection. Others I sealed in packing tape, secured with wire and surrounded with golden rings suspended on nails . . . More and more fascinating variations came to life.

Once I had multiples of them I arranged them on waxed and painted wooden boards in numerous compositions. The most beautiful collection emerged – each piece different yet complimentary. It was the best body of work I have ever created.

I had a trunk show that a dear friend hosted for me to show my new art – a guest fell in love with my work and requested a commission. I hated commissions! But I was in no financial position to turn it down . . . There was often an unexpressed concept that the buyer can direct the artwork that puts a serious damper on creativity . . . Not to mention that I was still in such a deep state of depression and anxiety not conducive to art making . . . So I tried my best to turn her down. She persisted. I made an impossible offer to her that I was sure she would reject. I told her I would make her the most beautiful thing I could using her size and color specifications, but that I could not explain what the finished piece would look like. No sketches or studio visits, no deadline – and it would be unveiled in her home at the time of installation. And the price would be $6000 with a non refundable $3000 deposit. She hesitated briefly, then said yes.

It took months, but was the most exquisite thing I had ever made, and was composed of those little packets of unpaid bills. Transformed from one currency into another . . . She and I became dear friends and will be for life. Her belief in me helped me make painful but necessary changes – I moved in with my sister and her family, started a sales career in the luxury interiors world, got my child through college, saved money, got out of debt. After four years I found my own lovely apartment in Manhattan and became a top seller, making more money that I had ever imagined possible.

However, once an artist always an artist . . . I realized I needed to again work creatively, use my intuition and help others. It was time to morph once again . . . I am now a certified hypnosis practitioner in NYC offering hypnotherapy for a variety of issues, but most dear to my heart is helping people with creative blocks, transforming ‘failures’ into successes and working through depression and anxiety.

Would I ever have imagined that mountains of debt and unpaid bills would have lead me to this new fulfilling life? Not in a million years! Am I safer, on solid ground, protected and fully utilizing my skills and abilities? Yes. Yes. And yes . . . . Here’s to urgent action taken!

Bound Bills#11 by Kate Rogovin

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