“Put a hat on a shelf (or worse in a box) and no one will notice it. Put that same hat in a display case and suddenly everyone wants to know its story!”
I took this quote directly from a website that specializes in selling display cases for the home. For some strange reason I am having trouble finding the exact link but it does exist somewhere on the internet.
As quirky as it is, I really like this quote. Not because it has great, meaningful depth and will change the way I live my life… well, I guess it could… I like it because it’s true to my collections and my art.
Some of you may know that I have had unhealthy collecting problems. There was a point in time where I seemed to have bought everything that shared air with the 1990’s. I love video games, movies, toys, board-games, and electronics from the 90’s. It is a dream of mine to one day have a basement or large enough room to create a micro video rental store. It would definitely exist to feed my nostalgia monster but it would also serve to display all my cool stuff from the 80s and 90s. Though I do not own anything that is worth butt-loads of money, I do own things that mean a lot to me. For example, the copy of Steven Spielberg’s Hook that I own on VHS is being held together by tape. Is it worth anything? Absolutely not–you could buy it at a thrift store for pennies… But this torn up copy is mine from my childhood and I wouldn’t trade, sell, or throw it away for anything. I remember watching it over and over as a young lad and, to be perfectly honest, I put it on just about every time I’m working in my studio. It’s like a brother to me. My copy of Hook would get its own display case in my special room and be a conversation piece.
As for my art, the display case serves an identical purpose–to emphasize personal value and to protect to objects within. My current series of work consists of found objects (artifacts) that are displayed in vitrines and in glass cases. The items themselves tell a narrative of my creation based in the city of Littlefork in Minnesota during the decade of the 90’s. The vitrines do exactly what the quote promises–I put ordinary objects in a display case and suddenly everyone wants to know its story! Well… I at least hope they do…
I recently came across a series of videos by Pixar Animation Studios titled Pixar in a Box. This particular series was titled The Art of Storytelling. The introduction video stated that humans naturally tell stories–which is absolutely true. Since the beginning of the human existence, we’ve been verbally sharing tales with one another. Story telling is a powerful thing. It has the ability to connect people on an emotional level.
My favorite part of the video was when the host talked about what to write about. He said to write what you know–write about monsters, explosions, and car chases… but put something in it that talks about your own life, and how you feel… That something will make that story come alive and not just be a boring car chase.
To me, the 1990’s was the golden age for everything; video games, cartoons, movies, toys, music… Maybe I’m bias because this decade raised me into who I am today. A third of my life was spent in this glorious decade and though I love where it brought me I still think about how much simpler it was back then and how much easier it seemed and how much fun it was. I know the 90’s and basing my story in this decade is a way for me to be in my narrative. The 90’s is my explosion, my car chase.
I recently volunteered my time (this past Saturday, April 13, 2019) at what the locals call ArtsFest. To my understanding, it is organized by the Parks and Recreation Department in the city I am currently residing and Georgia Southern University hosts it. Everyone and everything came out of the woodwork for the event. Though, there was GSU art department representation, we were few to the many.
Of us included booths for Print, Paper, Book arts, jewelry and ceramics, Paint to Protect (ceramic tile critters), Sunprints, and 3D Sculptures. Nights before the event, the mother of the Paint to Protect booth, Lyndsey Frantz, asked for assistance. Some fellow grad students, including myself, rallied to punch out 600 animal shapes from clay with metal cookie cutters. Though it wasn’t easy work, we took on the challenge as a team and muscled through it. I am not writing about this to boast about how much good I did–I am writing it, especially in art, to show the importance of collaborating, getting along, working as a team. If Lyndsey was left to cut out everything by herself, she would have been at it for the rest of the night and probably into the morning. But she didn’t have to because she had friends who cared about her and what she believed in. Of course, this applies to other situations like the home and workplace. As they say “Teamwork makes the dream work”…
Rant over? Now, I have never attended this particular festival of arts so I had no idea of what to expect. It got pretty nuts, which is understandable because it’s a small town and people in small towns typically get really into whatever else is happening that’s not at home… meaning when there’s a thing going on, there’s typically a big audience. I took the reigns alongside my current photo professor, Bridget Conn. We had a booth for guests to try out sunprinting or cyanotypes. It was a particularly cloudy day and were had worries that the prints were going to take like 15 minutes to make plus another 15 minutes to rinse and dry. Our first test was a little scary. We cooked it in the clouds for about 20 minutes and didn’t look how we expected it to. I never worked with the materials we had so I kinda didn’t have any negative expectations–because it was pre-coated I thought it would work fine… and it did, actually. After processing and rinsing and drying, the prints turned out pretty damn good and pretty damn blue.
I worked straight through the whole festival, I didn’t mind–I was doing a really awesome thing with really awesome people. It’s a shame we don’t do more things like that… not only is it great to get people on campus it’s also a great way to get involved with the community and peers. I wonder why people here don’t look at the big picture and see what is really important. If I graduate with my MFA, I know with absolute certainty that I will not be alone in making art. Collaborating with other artists and professionals seems so much more beneficial than working alone.