while visiting family in minneapolis, we decided to go to the famous sculpture garden at the walker arts center. as we were about to make the turn into parking lot, i caught a glimpse of this phrase on the side of the main museum building.
it's an installation by lawrence weiner, a conceptual artist who creates primarily text-based art. this piece, "bits & pieces put together to present a semblance of a whole," refers to artistic processes, like brush strokes that make up a painting or clay that is assembled into a sculpture.
i certainly didn't think it looked very pretty (i mean, if you're going to do a typographic masterpiece, shouldn't you be using a glorious font like helvetica?), but the phrase was the perfect expression of something i've been thinking about for awhile: how we are truly the sum of our all our experiences—whether good, bad or indifferent—and the people we encounter—whether they impacted us for the better, the worse or not at all.
in the last year, being on facebook has underscored this point. it has been a catalyst for many things: keeping up with current friends, getting to know new ones, and reconnecting with long lost ones...and, to complement your carefully edited profile (featuring only your most flattering photos and pristine shapshots of your life as you would like to portray it), are the lovely tagged photos (a.k.a. bribery shots) of you in your not-so-finest-of-moments.
whether motivated out of nostalgia or revenge, these are the scanned photos from your old friends in grade school or the drunken mug shots from a long forgotten bender or heaven forbid the karaoke video of you belting out bon jovi in the wee hours of the night. sure, you can "untag" yourself but the truth is those images will continue to live on in infamy with little regard for your personal embarassment.
it's hilarious...and also humbling. if you think of facebook as an analogy for life, try as we might to cover up the warts from our past or the bury the bad times that we'd much rather forget, they will always be a part of us...
in the end, it's the sum of all those experiences and interactions with people—the "bits & pieces"—the triumphs and the tragedies, that make you stronger, make you the person you are today.
at work we label projects "WIP" or "work in progress" if they're not quite finished, there's still more work to be done, more outlines to be filled in, more conclusions to be drawn, before we can call them complete. like works of art, we should remember that we are all "WIP" and our finished masterpieces will be the collection of brushstrokes that we paint, not only the individual swipes.