In 2013, after my husband, Jim, passed away, I was confronted with the task of sorting through the decades’ worth of objects he had collected. The sheer amount of items my late spouse left behind was overwhelming as he was a talented individual with many interests; I'm still sorting it out. At one point I opened a closet that contained a sizable collection of 5.25” floppy disks from the 1980’s that were stacked floor to ceiling and thought, "how does one even dispose of these things responsibly?" As I navigated the different options of selling, shredding, donating, recycling, reusing, upcycling, and tossing his numerous items, I became increasingly tired of “things.”
What kind of material legacy do we leave behind? was a question that burdened me from that time forward. Being an artist and maker, I naturally add to society and earth’s accruement of objects. Not only does my work require an assortment of tools to create an artwork, but the prototyping, waste material, and final creation also add to my overall output.
How does one resolve the issue of being a maker AND minimizing one’s environmental footprint? At first, my making practice became paralyzed by my own ethics as it seemed to me the two concepts were mutually exclusive. Through continuous research, I found that the only solution to reconcile these activities lay in the Cradle to Cradle philosophy. By using sustainable materials and designing items that are intended for eventual disassembly and recycling, I can now, in good conscience, continue to be a maker… but a responsible one.
In an effort to educate the public about sustainable artists and their processes, Thoughtful Hands was created. I hope the organization will inspire other artists to make great work in a manner that is good for all of us.
- founder Deanna Ooley