We hold these Truths….
As a collage artist you inevitable use other people’s stuff. There are the old books and magazines that someone may have read or not. When you get to old maps, there is often a greater amount of residual energy. Was it a map that traveled around Europe in a backpack belonging to someone inspired by The Drifters 40 years ago? Maybe it was a map that spent a life in a glove box and occasionally witnessed those stressful where-the-hell-are-we arguments on stressful car trips? There are times I feel my dreams are influenced by materials I handle all day while making art.
Old postage stamps can have a whole other level of energy. Mostly I use old, cancelled postage stamps. The envelopes cut apart, the stamps soaked from the paper and dried. All those steps, and there still may be the physical evidence of residual DNA from a long ago sender’s saliva. And more significantly, the old stamps can contain the residual metaphysical energy from the letter’s contents.
Today I was working on a new collage made with old postage stamps. I started along the edge and used a batch of 10¢ Jefferson Memorial stamps from the 1970’s. Each stamp was identical but with a different history. I began to wonder what type of letter was each stamp affixed to. Was it a bill that someone struggled to pay? An application for college? A rejection letter from an employer? A love letter? A Dear John letter? A birthday card? Each stamp linked to it’s own story, now lost but yet somehow still attached to the individual stamp’s history. Decades later that stamp, and in a way that story, becoming part of something else, a new piece of art.
Public Transportation, mixed media on canvas, 24”x24”
I’ve lived car free since the 1980’s. When I am feeling broke, it’s fun to estimate how much money I have saved over the years by not owning a car. I do drive and rent cars for road trips and also use the car sharing service zipcar. There are times I want to do suburban shopping errands as well as other times when a car makes life easier. Living in a compact city with decent public transportation makes it all possible. Out of both necessity and some genuine admiration, I love public transportation.
When I travel to different cities I always seek out the adventure of public transportation. There is something magical about emerging from a subway station in a strange city for the first time. I still can remember the moment I emerged onto a Barcelona street and beheld Gaudí’s la Sagrada Família. Many of my dreams play out on public transportation. I often dream about stations and trains over and over for months before I first see them. This has happened for me in places like Frankfurt and Washington, D.C.
This new piece is made up of public transportation maps from around the world. From my familiar MUNI and BART to DC’s Metro, to London’s Underground and many more. You also might spot a few bits of MUNI Fastpasses, transfers and BART tickets. I also have a DC Metro Ticket with President Obama on it. That one stayed on the refrigerator door. I couldn’t cut that one up.
Prints and other goodies based on Public Transportation are also available from Society 6.
Today’s Work in Progress
Every time I realize I used a piece of map that says “museum,” I think of it as a magical incantation.
September 30, 2011 – Decline and Fall
When does it start? Did they look up one day in Ancient Egypt and say, “Hey, the nose fell off the Sphinx, we better do something about that.” When do things start turning to ruins? How do we tell the difference between Visigoths and Canadians? It’s a compelling question about many ancient empires left in ruins. When do you know?
With all that in mind, in case you haven’t heard yet, the Washington Monument took quite the beating in that recent earthquake centered in Virginia. Now, of course, the government will make every effort to repair and restore the Washington Monument. Or, will they? The American rightwing is determined to obstruct the workings of government at any costs. Will next year see the triumph of their campaign of polarization? Will the Red State/Blue State dichotomy become permanent?
They probably will repair the Washington Monument and we’ll all plod along. Or maybe we’ll look east from the California Republic as Sarahnewt Rick Bachmanromney fiddles while their country collapses around them. It might get interesting.
August 9, 2011 – L’Enfant’s City
Peter L’Enfant’s city is a place that all Americans can call “our city.” L’Enfant was the civil engineer and architect commissioned by George Washington to design the nation’s capital. Ultimately the design of Washington, D.C. was a collaborative effort but the heart of the plan came from L’Enfant. Peter started using an Americanized name when serving in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. L’Enfant was born Pierre Charles L’Enfant in France on this day, August 9, 1754. It seems appropriate that America has a capital city designed by an immigrant.
Regardless of how one feels about the people running things in Washington, it is hard not to be impressed by the city. The streets are wide and open though still feel comfortable for pedestrians. The buildings and monuments are in many ways an expression of an imperial city yet Washington can be described as a city of accessible grandeur. The accessibility of our capital city and our country is something all Americans have to fight to maintain. The One Percenters have their lobbyists and functionaries in Washington. We have seen that they are willing to hold the country hostage for their own gain. We need to remind them that L’Enfant’s City belongs to all of us.
April 8, 2011 – The Pill
The pill has been part of American life for over 50 years and it seems rather astonishing that the U.S. Government may be shut down today over the pill. After all this time, it seems the pill should be no ore controversial than the gyrations of Elvis’s hips or the length of Beatles’ hair. Yet, in 2011, fanatics in the Republican Party are essentially willing to let the federal government shut down over funding to Planned Parenthood. Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s speech on the House floor this morning summed it up.
So with a fusion of maps of Tehran and Washington D.C. today’s piece is dedicated to the pill and the reproductive rights of women all over the world.