One Man’s Trash

My love for a good, old-fashioned obsessive collection has been well-documented (see here, here, and here). As someone with a soft spot for objects that deserve a good home, I find that the line between adding to your collection and leaving something for someone else to find is a fine one. At the thrift store I can convince myself that someone else will come along and give that amazing object a good home, but what about when something interesting is destined for the landfill? How do you say no then?

Perhaps this sense of rescuing things just before they’re lost forever was the motivating force behind the collection of Nelson Molina. A now-retired New York City sanitation worker, Molina began collecting objects from the trash to decorate his locker. 30 years later, his “Treasure in the Trash” collection now takes up one entire floor of a sanitation department warehouse in East Harlem. The collection (which is sadly not open to the public) lives on as a reminder of the value, humor, and strangeness of broken and discarded things. One man’s trash is clearly another man’s warehouse full of treasure.

Via Atlas Obscura.

#5womenartists

March is Women’s History Month, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts has launched a campaign to bring attention to the many amazing women artists whose work tends to be overlooked. Asked to name five artists, way too many people will come up with a list of solely (dead, straight, white) dudes. This campaign aims to reframe the conversation– a move I am definitely down for.

Narrowing my favorite women artists down to just five wasn’t easy, but I decided to go with five that are most inspiring me lately. Check my blog archives for about a hundred other awesome art-makers, many of them ladies.

Vivian Maier

Margaret KilgallenMargaret KilgallenA post about Margaret’s work and my love of hand-lettered signage.

Kara Walker

Martha Rich

Frida Kahlo

Honorable Mention: Guerilla Girls

Light Rail

We all know that they just don’t build them like they used to, and that’s especially apparent when looking at this amazing 1940’s photos from Chicago’s Union Station. These days the Great Hall is rented out for events, but during WWII when commuters traveled through it every day, officials decided to black out the building’s skylights in an attempt to hide it from potential enemy aircraft. The tall clerestory windows at each end were left as the only light source, which resulted in these moody, dramatically-lit scenes. Perfect for a film noir, wouldn’t you say?

Via Mashable.

Alex Beck

This week I’ve been immersing myself in the paintings of Alex Beck, a Virginia-based artist whose work combines an old school painterly style with contemporary subjects and vintage mash-ups. I’m always intrigued by work that gives a nod to other techniques, as with Beck’s paintings that look like photographs, and paintings that look like collages of photographs. Plus, I’m a sucker for a bright pink/cool blue color scheme.

Via Jealous Curator

Feminist Puppet Donation to ACN

Feminist finger puppets: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Angela Davis, Margaret Sanger, and bell hooksThere’s a great quote by Bertolt Brecht that says that “Art is not a mirror held up to reality
but a hammer with which to shape it.” This idea has always really resonated with me in that what we create, no matter how small, is not only an expression of who we are, but also a vital part of making the world the way we want it to be. Whether painting or photography, or even a finger puppet!, the choices that an artist makes mean something because our work is inherently a message out to the rest of the world.

It’s always been important to me to create work that’s clever and fun, but given that art-making is also a opportunity to “shape the world,” I’ve also tried to feature puppet characters and people who were progressive or subversive in some way. Whether it’s a character we see take a journey no one would’ve expected at the startone that breaks seemingly every stereotype, if I’m going to commemorate someone, it’s because I love it and I see real positive value in what that person represents.

In this spirit, I recently jumped at the chance to create a silent auction donation for Abortion Care Network‘s yearly meeting. ACN supports independent abortion providers around the country–a network that currently provides care for 2 out of 3 women in the U.S. who have abortions each year–and works to increase access and end stigma and harassment of abortion-seekers and caregivers.

south-wind-womens-center-wichita-ks-1

My family happened to have donated to South Wind Women’s Center, part of ACN’s network, late last year, shortly before the opportunity to take part on the auction came about. Funny how things come together, huh?

Obviously this is an issue that’s been in the news in recent months, I was glad to have an opportunity to do something positive for this cause, and excited for the challenge of creating work that would appeal specifically to ACN’s members and donors. I decided that this event would be a great opportunity to celebrate some of my favorite feminist icons as puppets. It was no easy decision to narrow down the field, but I eventually chose four women: birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger (a no-brainer, given the cause), radical anti-racist and women’s right activist Angela Davis, scholar and writer bell hooks (watch this great recent clip of her and the divine Laverne Cox talking about feminism and reproductive rights), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my love for whom has been well-documented.

A pretty badass crew, don't you think? Talk about #squadgoals!

A pretty badass crew, don’t you think? Talk about #squadgoals!

Custom projects like this are always exciting, and even more so when I have an opportunity to indulge my activist side more than usual. Here’s hoping the crowd at the ACN event agrees and the set raises some money for such a great cause!