Saturday, February 11, 2012

Born into Stories

December 31, 2006

“We are each born into a situation—a particular body (its race, sex, health...), a set of ancestors, a community, a nation—and born into the stories told of each of these.”  
Lewis Hyde, Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership

"Saddam Hanged"

 Excerpt from The Daimon:
                “So how are things with the mold?”  Elisabeth’s friends wanted to know. 
                “The mold was a gift.”  Elisabeth found herself saying as she relayed her purging efforts and the transformation that took place within her as she developed an allergy from mold growing in the air ducts.  “I was becoming a hoarder.”  She confessed.
                “Oh my!”  A friend’s eyes got big.
                “Everything I kept was a treasure for a possible future project.”  Elisabeth continued.
                “Well of course,” Her other friend acknowledged, “You are an artist!”
                Elisabeth went on to tell her friends about the people who came to her curb to retrieve her displayed treasures, rescuing them before the trash truck came on trash days.  A high school girl who lived in the neighborhood had told Elisabeth that her art teacher had complimented her on projects that she was making from Elisabeth’s castaways.  “This has been your best work!”
                “My old dollies…my mom’ chair—now, that’s a story to tell you!”  Elisabeth proceeded.
                ”There was this woman who was loading my mom’s chair in the back of her truck and I called out to her, ‘Thank you so much for rescuing my mom’s chair.’”                               
                Elisabeth’s friends listened spellbound.
                “And so we started talking and the next thing I know, she offered to take my mom’s chair and get it reupholstered for me.” 
                Elisabeth was very grateful for the offer because she loved Momma’s chair.  It had been the one piece of furniture that she could sit in without her back complaining to her.  It desperately needed reupholstering and then when the air conditioner was turned off, the house became steamy and the chair became moldy.     
                “Time passed while I was no longer at our house and the lady couldn’t find me to ask about the kind of fabric to use.”  Elisabeth loved telling this part:  “So she looked at my window flower boxes and tried to imagine what the inside of my house looked like.”
                Months passed, seasons changed and Elisabeth had moved back home.  The lady came by and knocked on her door. 
                “Would you like to go with me to pick up your chair?”   
                “Of course!”  Elisabeth grabbed her purse and hopped into the truck. 
                It was a scenic drive to the country home inhabited by a couple who used their basement for an upholstery shop.  Upon entering, Elisabeth spotted Momma's chair.
                “Do you like it?”  The lady asked.
                “It takes my breath away!”  Elisabeth replied knowing she would not have picked that particular print but it would match her house perfectly.  Elisabeth gladly paid for the reupholstering.
                “That chair is the focal point of my living room!”  Elisabeth ended her story.  “I get lots of compliments on it.
                “It’s like The Gift,” Her friend told of a book by Lewis Hyde who writes about creativity and the artist in the modern world.  “There is this conflict between viewing your art as a gift to be shared and marketing it.”  She explained to Elisabeth that by letting go of her treasures, a gift came back to her. 

                "Saddam Hanged" is a piece made from broken treasures that (like the rest of my pieces)  was not made with a marketing intent. I'm not sure what my intent was other than to create something that I felt compelled to create after Saddam was hanged.  It has hung in the center of my home and now I am sharing it.


  1. Thanks Janet! The Chair Lady gives you hope for humanity doesn't she? I set up my show today. I'm still needing to grout one last piece. Whew! Gennie

  2. nice work, I will be coming to your exhibit.