A little crazy recently about clear coating most of our collection of old lawn chairs and gliders, I have been spending too much time with a wood chisel eliminating dense and easy rust for the upcoming application.
Playing mind games while working and wondering why these old chairs mean so much to me, I thought about other collections, including those of my husband. He wears a fedora (has many), listens to music from the forties and collects old suitcases, and loves old trucks both toy and not. I have collected old dinette sets, hammered aluminum tableware, those multi colored aluminum tumblers, aluminum chairs from WW II submarines, and gawd knows what else.
As a child, we did not own those tumblers. Or hammered aluminum. But they are very evocative and comforting to me.
Andy Warhol put frames around mundane things to elevate them to symbolism. Could the things themselves be canvases?
We did have a dinette set. You know the ones. Tubular, sometimes with a great insert that tucks away underneath, and always with that pattern. This pattern is stunning to me as it is so evocative of my youth.
I stared down this surface every day while waiting for my Chef Boyardee or Cream of Wheat. I ended up going into a field of art that is totally organized around pattern. Pattern, the way to understand the world. Pattern, my comfort.
In art history class, in discussion about non-objective or non-representational art work, I urged the students to forget about the “middle man” of subject matter, and and to look at this work as representative of pure emotion. You don’t have to paint, for example, a man being sad to express sadness. You can simply paint the sadness. The pure emotional form.
Now, working on these old chairs, the question is whether or not these chairs could be a canvas on which emotion can be layered. Their shape is evocative, their layers of paint are history. Can I modify these surfaces at will and make an artistic statement?