Sunday, January 4, 2009

Little Boxes

At some point I started paying a lot of attention to how my visual memory is connected to my life experiences, and in 2001 I started noticing how certain patterns would remind me of people.  Let's take toile for example.  At that time, I didn't know what toile was.  I'd never heard that word before.  My friend Sarah, who I was working with at the time, determined to educate me on this, drug me into Pottery Barn and showed me a very nice chair upholstered in a toile patterned fabric.  And every since, toile has made me think of Sarah.  Just like Burberry plaid makes me think of Carrie, and the Simpsons' kitchen curtains make me think of Joe.

So I started a list.  I think of that list (which I carry around in a little Moleskin journal) as a sort of inventory.  It's an inventory of a collection.  We all collect things - baseball cards, egg cups, Hummel figures, vintage porn, action figures, classic cars, shoes, Elvis paraphernalia  cookbooks.  It's different for everyone I suppose, but in my case, my list was documenting the people I have collected in my life.  The ones that I have picked up along the way.  The ones I wish were near me. The ones I want to hang onto.  My people.

And this list was made for a reason.  It's the starting point for a series of paintings that shows those visual connections that I continue to make between the things I see and the people I know.  It started with just patterns, but that wasn't enough.  Some patterns remind me of more than one person, and there aren't really patterns for everyone I wanted to document.  So I expanded the possible subject matter to everything visual.  I also decided to include collage and to use the 4" square format for each of the paintings.  Tiny.  Intimate.  As of right now, there are about 400 paintings planned for this series. 

I admit that I'm really quite excited to see them all together.  I imagine them in a big gallery, usually they are in the 12 x 12 room at the Chicago MCA when I imagine it, arranged in a sort of here and there crossword puzzle sort of way.  A remix of our world, documenting those I've known, and what I've seen.  I can't wait to have it all finished.  

I know it's futile to hang onto things.  Nothing lasts.  It all goes by.  But I also know that the reason we are blessed with memory is so that we can take this life that goes by far too fast and revisit the moments that we didn't get enough time with the first time.

So the little boxes will continue to progress, and as they do, I'll continue to post them.  And someday, I'll reach the end of that list.  Someday.

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