I Wanted the Artist to Be Older

This morning I went by myself to see an exhibition at the Young Harris College art gallery not far from here. It had been recommended by friends that I see it. I had the place to myself. No one else was there. As soon as I walked in the door, I was swept up in the work. I looked all over for an artist’s statement about what I was looking at…there was none. So, left with my own imagination, I thought this was an exhibition of recollections of familial connections throughout an older woman’s life. As soon as I soaked it all up, I looked the artist up online. No, she looked to be in her thirties at most, in love with collecting materials, and an extraordinary talent with selecting and placing those materials.

So here is a fraction of the work on exhibit:

And then at the end there was this.

And behind the curtain…

I sat down in the chair and typed my secret….then took a feather.

It now is hung in my studio to remind me not only of my secret but as a reminder that I need to get busy. I need to be the old woman I took this young artist for. There seems to be a sense of urgency when I see the materials that surround me….the materials that have yet to be put into place on something that says, “Here I am as I see myself today.” I have been writing autobiographical works on paper. But I have not “built” myself in awhile.

I thought, at first, this artist was me. I saw so much in the use of stitch, found object, parts of things that had other purpose before they were collected as elements of design. Several things in common through the look of her work and remembering mine. I will say she used several old photographs, all of which I assumed were from her family’s history. I am not so sure of that now. Why would almost everything there be for sale if it was her family?

Personally, I have strong views on using old photographs of people we don’t have personal connections with. They (the photographs) are quick private glances of a moment in their lives that we should not feel free to exploit as simply another bit of material to make our work more intriguing. They never posed for that purpose, never could have guessed that their picture would be used by total strangers years later as just another interesting material placed among other old things.

Aside from all that, the exhibit is beautifully done and I am so glad friends recommended I go see it. The design and craftsmanship is near perfection. The amount of work to peer into is most plentiful and rewarding. It will be on exhibit until late September.

My heart ached when I saw this exhibit and it ached a bit more when I realized the artist was not an old woman putting her life’s connection to her own history on display. I so wanted her to be an old lady gripping needle and thread, cloth, paper and what was left of a lifetime of saving bits and pieces for a final display of a life connected to those who came before her.

And a year ago today I had just moved in…

All those boxes unpacked and their contents put where they belong. The best parts are on the walls and in here, the studio, where the most amazing thoughts occur to me. I could finish writing about a man leaving. I could plug in the second story on a disk by Tana French, I could draw and paint another image of Burke and Wills growing old together, I could go for a walk to step away from myself….But I won’t. I am going to pour a glass of wine and think about how much it matters to me that the artist was not an old lady.

Thank you for listening to this post. There really is no one else who would not have preferred I was talking about the weather.

Wine is waiting…

til later….