One of the craziest memories, I recall during high school, occurred outside a photography class.
It was senior year, winter quarter, and a Friday. I was heading towards my favorite "bell", photography. Ironically, at the time, I didn't even consider it as a future career. I had just been admitted to college for film school. Photography was just a break to do something fun and exciting, during an otherwise horrible drag between calculus and physics.
As I turned the corridor to the room, something was amiss. It involved a girl in my class, who had shot a series of five incredible portraits of her boyfriend. They were dramatic combinations of color and black and white. I remember one of them specifically. It was a closeup of his piercing blue eyes, the skin around the eyes tinted black and white, so as to create impact. Some of her photos were ripped in half, dangling on the bulletin board by a thumbtack, only the top third remaining. One had been torn all the way off the wall, lying scuffed on the green carpet, with footprints all over from the class to class shuffle of students. The last photo, with the piercing blue eyes, was nowhere to be found. I was shocked. Who would vandalize this girl's photographs? However, as I went into class it became clear, seeing as her head was down on her desk, with tears in her eyes. The couple had broken up. She herself was the vandal of her own work. As a young lad, I didn't get it. It seemed drastic and destructive. My ignorant bliss obviously couldn't comprehend why or how this happened.
So the question begs, at what point does someone destroy their own art, during a fit of emotion, or to erase the past? I wonder if some of the most beautiful works of art, never survived because they were destroyed over breakups? What if Da Vinci burned some of his most beautiful sketches, to forget the past, then used the recycled charcoal to start anew, and draw new works of art in his notebook?
The famous fashion and portrait photographer, Richard Avedon, once said:
"My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph."
When an artist destroys their own work, out of emotional dismay, or to banish the past, are they in fact destroying that piece of themselves? I often wonder if the girl regrets destroying the prints, rather than keeping them in a box under her bed. I guess i'll never know. But maybe there is still one that survived, perhaps tucked away in a box, below a stack of essays in her parent's basement. Its blue eyes piercing into the vacant space, waiting to be rediscovered.