In what seems like the 2 seconds I have home in Hawaii before I leave for work again I was asked to hang a show of some of my recent work. The idea honestly haunted me. After seeing all of the BEAUTIFUL work at the New York Photo Festival and remembering the not so beautiful work that I so easily critiqued, I was feeling quite nervous about showing my own work, even if it is on my "own" turf.

I decided that in the spirit of the planet that we are all trying to save with our nylon re-usable totes and recycling bins and in the spirit of the spiraling economy, that this show would be about making something old, new again. It would be about reusing something I have or someone else has once used and giving it new life. I had no IDEA what photos I was going to hang.

 Then I decided to visit to my grandmother's house to see what her ideas for the show were and how I could make something old new again. "Tutu" is a watercolor artist that has been a constant source of love and inspiration since I can remember. Her work is solely for her own pleasure and she seeks no attention or profit from it, it is what she says "keeps her young." If we could only all feel that way. After living through the depression she knows how to squeeze the life out of a penny, or how to keep it. She NEVER throws anything away, hence, there is an ENTIRE room of her home dedicated to housing frames, canvases, easels, old paints, paint boxes... you name it. She pulled me back into the room, and told me to choose the frames I wanted for my photos because she was going to "throw them out anyway," (sure she was). 

The old dusty frames sitting in the dark room were not exactly my idea of what I wanted to "make new", and how did any of these "fit" any of my work. These HUGE 24"x 30" inch wooden frames with gold accents left me feeling hopeless. Tutu insisted that I take them. So I decided to take the smallest ones I could find and spray paint them all white. I decided that was as much recycling as I could do with only 5 days left before I hung the show and still no photos printed or even chosen.

So I lined them up and began to spray away the old dingy wood with bright WHITE paint. 

As they got whiter and whiter I liked them less, originally they were almost (ALMOST... not really) a cool vintage collection of frames but none of them were really that great, even with a good cleaning. The paint made them look worse, like I was using it to hide the major flaws they had. Covering them up was a bad idea, they were not old new again as I originally intended, they were just white spray painted DIY home show bad....

So I started to sand the paint off... and as the paint I had covered them with came off, they started to look better. They revealed some of their original selves, even if some of it is really ugly, it is what they are. They also began to "tell" me what photos would "fit" in them. There was this HORRIBLE yellow frame, uugh, HORRIBLE and it was worse with spray paint on it. As I rubbed the white off and got back to the yellow it made me think of a photo that I took of a mustard flower field in France (above). I began to choose my photos according to the frames instead of frames for photos I had already chosen, quite a backwards approach to the whole thing, but its too late to stop now. 

Not all of the frames have "spoken" to me yet, and this idea of "aging" them is by no means my own ( just watch HGTV)  but this experience also got me thinking about friends and how sometimes when we see the "ugly" part of them it gives a chance to see what makes them beautiful. When the cracks show and the imperfections are exposed from under the white paint and their true self is revealed, that is when we can truly become friends, when we are given the chance to love each other for what we are and what we lack. Although sometimes the imperfections are not what we want to see, and it can hurt, it is what makes them real, and imperfect, and unique, and a friend. Like my frames, maybe when you rub a little of the white paint off you get a chance to see or hear what they really have to say and maybe that is when they become beautiful. 


tiana said...

BEAUTIFUL! I love all my ugly framed friends!

Kimi Werner said...

I love this blog so much. It's so awesome to journey with you through your creative process and the sentimental analogies you find along the way truly make my heart melt! Can I come to your show??? love you daeja!

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