GROWING UP, I USED TO COLLECT THINGS. Mostly, I gravitated toward records and music collectibles, pop-culture odds and ends, but at times I was distracted by the really old things. I loved objects that once belonged to strangers: a cast-iron soldier that outlived a boy's interest, a tiny aspirin tin that may have been kept by his mother or grandmother. These objects had a powerful presence of their own. When I picked up a cobalt blue eye wash, I imagined the man who might have used it to rinse his eyes in the evening before going to bed. I would imagine what his day was like, what he was feeling, and what his life was like.
I make shadow boxes to represent these lives. I find old photographs of actual people and objects from different eras, and then I put them together to create small reliquaries. Each box is a story about a life and the moment it ended. Whether they recall a passed life or a past life, it's death that begins the story, and the story is all that's left behind. Whether they happened or not is beside the point—they make a truth as they go. These boxes are made of parts of all of us and are inspired by all lives, then and now, from birth to rebirth.
Each box is accompanied by a short fictional essay of each person in the photo and the surrounding objects. Then I put the story in a small frame and attach it to the box with a chain—it also becomes an object. This project lets me explore mortality and the connections we have with objects. I like the idea that the things we hold in our hands often last longer than the person who held it, and within that object, our story is now held.
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