Artists Allow a Rarely Offered Look at Their Unfinished Pieces
New Art Show Explores Unfinished Works
It’s been common throughout history for artists to leave their works unfinished, although for an artist, someone seeing their unfinished work is like being caught with their pants down.
“Non Finito,” Italian for “not finished,” is a group show of artists exposing themselves in the vulnerable act of displaying incomplete work.
Seventeen artists submitted one finished piece and one incomplete work. Although many artists were reluctant to display an unfinished piece, it’s hard to tell which pieces are done and which are not.
Valerie Roybal visualized the theme at an exhibition of unfinished old master paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. These works, unworthy of exhibition, had never been seen in a museum. Roybal curated the show with Angela Berkson, and Ted Laredo.
Roybal said she was inspired by how the negative space of unfinished work was just as intriguing as the completed parts. While the MET’s exhibition explored the theme from a historical perspective, “Non Finito” investigates the idea with contemporary art.
“We’re socialized as artists to think that what we put out into the world has to be perfect,” Roybal said. “Non-Finito” asks, “When is an artwork finished and what makes it worthy of display?”
Roybal went to artists’ homes searching for the hidden work. She crawled under one artist’s desk to retrieve a dust-covered blue cloud made from wood. The artist, Heidi Pollard, was surprised at the curator’s choice.
“You want to show that?” she asked.
When Roybal asked another artist in the show, Beau Carey, to show an unfinished work he said, “That’s like being caught with my pants down.”
Kristin Diener, a jewelry maker, displays pieces that give the most interesting contrast between finished and unfinished. Inside the frame, tiny objects connect to a slab of brass, ready for the torch. The unfinished work hangs next to a polished and intricately-complete necklace, giving a peek behind her process.
Diener said about her uncompleted projects, “Many are intact and waiting. They please me with their strength and potential. They repeatedly visit me.”
“Non Finito” will be at Sanitary Tortilla Factory (403 Second St. SW) until Jan. 29.