Monday, December 13, 2010

Eraser Landscape

I took an impression of the pieces of eraser left on the art room table today.

It was a lot. A lot a lot.

Some people demonstrate anxiety by
pressing down on a pencil or crayon really hard,
some people
color with a marker over a spot so many times that the paper rips. 
There are countless ways people demonstrate anxiety
with art materials.

One of those ways is erasing.

Erasing until the eraser is gone,
until it's just a nub. 
Erasing until there's a rip in the paper. 
Once a mark is made it's almost impossible to completely unmake. 
Must keep erasing. 
Even after it's no longer making any changes,
erasing, erasing, erasing. 
The eraser is ripped to pieces
and you blow the pieces around the table,
or maybe make a pile of them as you deftly wipe them off the paper like garbage. 
These little sticky white rubber pieces that aren't useful anymore,
not that they were useful in the first place,
at least after the first few passes.

The art room was empty. 
I couldn't resist. 
I saw a mountain range of pilled-up eraser pieces
and I had to have a picture somehow. 
I didn't have my camera.

So I gently laid my paper
over the mountain range
and rubbed with a pencil.

First, I rubbed lightly,
but it wasn't coming out how I liked
so I tried adding pressure. 
Then I just kept going. 
And the rubbing of the pencil
seemed to mimic the movement
the eraser must have made. 
A dance to honor the death of a once-useful yellow artist's eraser.

I made four xerox copies of the rubbing
so I could keep it
without getting graphite all over myself
(too late).

It wasn't enough.

When I got home I took an eraser and
erased the rubbing of the eraser. 
Erased, erased, erased
until I ripped the page. 
Then erased some more. 
It's very hard to erase a xerox,
and the eraser is useless
after the first layer. 
At first I thought I might make a design
but I realized quickly that was impossible
so I focused on simply erasing the pigment from the page.

Tectonic plates collided,
earthquakes formed a new landscape in the wrinkles of the paper.

I erased so much
the fiber of the paper cracked
and felt soft and smooth like cotton.

I stopped because my hand hurt and
I felt like what I was doing was useless.

After all that work,
all I had was a ripped sheet of paper
and a used-up eraser.


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