It recently occurred to me that I create these extra jobs for myself to make my pieces feel "right" from the inside. There's quite a few things I'll do in a piece that one may never see. I don't mind. It just makes it more authentic. It's not that I need everyone to relate to, or understand, the work (i learned that little bit of wisdom at my 1st open studios event), though you can't stop me talking about it to someone who is seriously, sincerely, curious about the pieces.
When I talk about the work, I can't help but describe it as something someone else has made. I usually start out with, "oh, this piece? well, this is from (any given name I've made up or found) and s/he was a russian immigrant/90 year old woman who'd lost her family/little boy with impeccable manners...." and go on to describe how this piece hung in their living room/bedroom/kitchen and I just happened across it when I met one of their relatives. Of course, it's all made up. But, to me, it feels real. Often, when I'm making something, as I'm laying out this or that part of a piece, it's like someone else's hands are doing it. I can picture the person saying to themselves, "i want to put this right here, because it meant so much to me."
My greatest compliment would be, if I overheard someone say, "What's that piece? Where did you find that? Was that your grandmothers?" I like to make pieces that seem vaguely familiar, that feel like family, an heirloom. It appeals to me to tear back wallpaper and see the layers and layers of age beneath them. Or buying an old piece of furniture, like a dresser, the drawers lined in newspaper from the early 1920's. People worked with what they had. I love that. You didn't need much back in the day (thing is, i still believe that and my 21st self struggles with it!).
The piece that was the final "treasure" in this weekend's treasure hunt had these little things... right before I closed the frame, I snuck a tiny little photo of a boy behind the primer card...you could just see his face. And, on the back, I layered old invoice paper with book binding tape and typed on another old math-problem card as if it was a fortune cookie, "you should be proud of yourself," it read, "you'll go far in life, I can tell."
When I saw Everything is Illuminated, I felt like I'd found my own treasure. Besides the scene where he is standing in front of a wall filled with collections (oh dream of dreams...), when they finally find what they didn't really realize they were looking for, they arrive at an old woman's house. An entire wall in her house is stacked high with boxes of other people's lives.I bawled my eyes out. Here is my life's project. Here's the next show. Here it is. Other people's lives, that may have gone unnoticed or ignored in the shoeboxes at garage sales or flea markets, I can so easily invent, create, re-tell. I collect and collect and collect for this very purpose.
A good friend of mine who got me into this whole art bizness in the first place finally dubbed my work as historical fiction, giving me the leeway to invent the stories, treat them as real and be okay with the idea that someone may or may not get what I'm going for.images from Hare & The Hounds show...
1. piece hanging at bi rite market, behind cashier
2. show in full swing
3. my map, purchased by this adorable couple i never got to personally meet
4. other juicy maps
5. still from film
6. 'treasure' found and returned to gallery, nestled amongst other beautiful maps