Letters from my younger self

Personal
365 Days, Day 34

365 Days, Day 34

I’ve spent the weekend salvaging what I can from a dying hard drive.  The files in the most danger (on the partition that constantly disconnects, and then reconnects with intimidating messages like THIS VOLUME CANNOT BE REPAIRED.  TRANSFER FILES TO ANOTHER VOLUME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE) are mostly from my senior year of college.

It’s fun to look back at those pictures and art projects.  Some are things I’d completely forgotten about; others are files I’ve been meaning to pull open again for years.

I’m happiest to revisit the self-portraits.  This is an era where I took a self-portrait every day, for over a year.  The project quickly became a visual journal, documenting the ups and downs of a stressful and wonderful (and stressful; it’s worth mentioning twice) year.

Mustering the creativity and courage for a portrait every day was a challenge.  The good days were great!  But every artist (every person, I suspect) has times when they feel they have nothing to give.  Feeling that way and being under the commitment to make art anyway–and not just art, but a selfportrait–is exhausting.

“Someday you’ll go back through these photos and appreciate them,” I told myself on bad days.  “You’ll be glad you stuck with this.”

I was right.

Goodbyes and Beginnings

Personal

Art Heals

Tonight was my last mentoring session for the school year.  

I volunteer once a week, leading art classes for at-risk youth at a residential treatment facility near my house.  It’s a fun, challenging, rewarding, and sometimes overwhelming job.  This was my fourth year with the program, and my third at this location.

The last session of the semester is always a strange one.  It’s a celebration, but also a time of goodbyes.  To ensure the safety of the youth we work with, we don’t share (or accept) contact information with (or from) them.  And while I’ll be back in the fall, hopefully all of the youth from this semester will have graduated by then and settled into their post-treatment-facility lives.

It’s a funny thing to say, “I’m so glad I got to know you, and I hope I never see you again,” and mean every word of it.  But it’s really the best thing we can leave them with.

Thank you.  Goodbye.  Keep making art.

Death Spiral Ashtray Clown

Part of my photo project Thrift Shop Hell, documenting weird and wonderful thrift store finds from the Upper Midwest.

Death Spiral Ashtray Clown

Death Spiral Ashtray Clown

So the thing about clowns is, clowns are weird. They’re a bit creepy by default. I’m not even afraid of clowns (I know some people are), and I find clown figurines to be a bit, well, off-putting.

There are a LOT of clown figurines at thrift stores and secondhand shops. And every single of them is a bit, well, iffy. If I let it happen, this entire project could be 100% creepy clown figurines—but where’s the fun in that?

So early, early on, one of the ground rules laid down for this project was, it can’t just be a clown. If you look at it and say, “Why is it creepy?” and your answer is, “Well, it’s a clown,” then, sorry. “Just a clown” isn’t enough.

Standards are higher for clowns. We expect more of them. They have to be, for example, posed provocatively. Or surfing, for no easily discernible reason.

Or, you know, maybe THE UNDEAD SPAWN OF SATAN HIMSELF SERIOUSLY WHAT THE %#@& IS GOING ON HERE SOMEONE HOLD ME HELP

The lady at the secondhand shop said it was an ashtray. Like it was no big deal. She also opined that it was, and I quote, “cute.”

I am starting to get seriously unsettled by ladies at secondhand shops.

Buy this print and open your very own portal to hell.