Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Case for Loving the Inanimate






Recently I've been asking myself if it is wrong to love my things.  It all started when I was telling Alex how I admire his mom's ability to let go of things so easily if they break or are lost or left somewhere.  We decided his family almost has this philosophy that it is wrong to love objects.  And then I read this article in which a painter I admire, Kathryn Lynch, talks about how moving is cathartic and makes you a ruthless editor of your things.

But then I walked around looking at the things that I love and decided; no I can defend myself and my love of the inanimate.  First of all, I am a still life painter and have a natural affinity for objects.  And the reason why is because they have always held meaning.  And then I realized something even better -- the reason I am interested in painting my things, or certain things and not other things is because they embody something, whether it be a quirkiness in shape or color or a personal sentiment.  So above is some of the evidence I collected walking around with my camera:

1. Bright yellow (the perfect chartreuse-y yellow) antique thrifted plates I found with my mom.
2. A beautiful little painting given to me by a good friend in my MFA program, Eric Huckabee
3. My odd collection of dishes each given by a different friend, all mismatched perfectly.
4. My great aunt and uncle's old kitchen clock from a farm in Watts county, PA.
5. A vintage recipe from Italy, in Italian, from my aunt Bonnie and my magnetic egg timer. 
6. Artwork from a favorite six year old student and my Barkley Hendricks magnets from PAFA.
7. My antique mushroom prints found on Ebay and sent from Scandinavia, and Nugget's favorite elephant
8. My student print, radio from defunct family store Levinthal's, & cactus from Courtney's wedding shower
9 &10. My Kirsten Fisher sculpture, a good friend from grad school -- fits just perfectly in the windowsill cutout

And so yes, these are just things and everyone's things are from somewhere, but they hold and ignite thoughts in me, just through looking...and that's plenty of reason to justify being kept around in my book.


Jeff said...

My wife and I can often be found at tag and estate sales. The owners were mostly elderly and have either moved on or moved away leaving cartons, stacks and collected piles of objects and writings that no one else seems to want. I'd wander thru and often say ask myself why would they keep this or that - and would sometimes pay a dollar or two to own the mystery myself.

I've been on a cleaning binge at our own house these days going thru both basement and attic. I'm asking myself the same question - why would I keep these things? Bits of paper, ceramics, old pots, furniture parts, and photos. Piles and stacks.

Objects are memory keepers- I would no more throw these bits and odd pieces away than I would discard the bits of memories they hold. So they get reorganized and tucked away yet again. Maybe someone that follows will solve the mystery of what and why... :)

Aubrey Levinthal said...

I love this post -- thank you. Looking at other peoples things and owning someone else's 'mystery' -- wondering about their life and making up stories -- you are right that is exactly why objects can be so interesting.

Unknown said...

Aubs, I too love this post and your love and attachments makes perfect sense...but the recipe is from Barcelona and in Spanish :)

Aubrey Levinthal said...

hehe you know languages were never my strong suit..

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