I detest frames, and they detest me.
Whenever I try to frame my art, the universe pushes back, hard.
This morning I wasted more than half an hour trying to convert a frame with a sawtooth hanger into one with eye screws and wire. I must do this because it is a rule of display for the shows of our artist’s group – a standard used by galleries everywhere.
The frame I want to use is small and slender. It has no back; it gives the impression that the artwork is floating. I want to use floating frames for several of my fused glass pieces that have clear glass backgrounds but are too heavy for a tabletop stand. Unfortunately, the floating frames come with a sawtooth hanger.
The eye screws have to be tiny – about 1/4 inch at the width of the loop. My fingers are not especially agile and they are more than twice the width of the loop. In addition to that coordination obstacle, I have little room for error – the frame itself is less than 1/2 inch wide.
It takes more than 10 minutes to get one eye screw firmly into the frame.
The second screw takes even longer. I’m not certain it will hold.
More problems follow as I try to cut the wire smoothly, wrap it and make it taut.
Eventually, running out of time, I give up. No fused glass piece of mine will be hanging in the January show.
It’s happened to me over and over, with photography, with experimental mixed media, and now with glass: Wrestling my art into frames has kept it from public display.
The message from the universe is clear as glass. This isn’t you. What you’re supposed to do as an artist doesn’t belong in a frame.
The frame forces my glass piece against a wall.
The frame sets a boundary: This is art, this is the wall, this is the viewer.
The frame creates a barrier between viewer and art.
I reject the frame. Arbitrary and artificial, it contaminates my intent.
I want my art to pull in the light, transmit the light. Not to sit on a wall, where it won’t disturb anyone’s daily routines.
I want to make art that flows into its environment, enters the minds and thinking of the people who see it.
I want to escape the frame.
Today’s penny is a 2006. That was the year I first experimented with frameless art.
It’s a macro photo of a palm frond that I shot in Oman.
I had a laminated print made and adhered to wood, with a stand fastened to the back. I display it in a spot where I pass it often, pick it up, and think about the elusive delicacy and sharp edges of the Middle East.