Wendy Fernstrum, “Enough Is Enough”

Wendy Fernstrum
St. Paul, Minnesota

Enough Is Enough
Artist book: intaglio, mono print, letterpress folios and pages contained within a clamshell box
8-15/16″ x 8-5/8″ x 1-3/4″ (closed)

Artist Statement

All that I possess and use
Is like the fleeting vision of a dream.
It fades into the realms of memory,
And fading, will be seen no more.

Shantideva, stanza 36 of The Way of the Boddhisatva

With the arrival of COVID-19 came an invitation to let go. This artist book germinated at the beginning of the lockdown in spring 2020, as I settled into isolation and reflected on my attachments. I finished production two years later, when faces began emerging from behind N95 masks.

How much is enough? In this catalog of objects that I’ve given away or let go of, I examine the relationship between longing and belongings and the wrestle of generosity with attachment. It’s a record of practicing generosity, of making space for a sense of enough. After an object leaves my possession, the residue of attachment often remains. The greater the sentimental value, the longer the memory of the object persists, filling the space as if it had never left.

Encouraging me in the practice of generosity are sages across time and faith traditions. Paired with their words of wisdom throughout the book, my own reflections concretize the pursuit of ideals in a culture of insatiable craving.

This endeavor to leave the world of never enough and abide in the space of enough is a daily, minute-by-minute practice. Occasionally I glimpse what it’s like to simply be.