How can art redeem the past, or add meaning to otherwise random collection of objects found from our lives? Carolyn Russel, a local to Annapolis, describes her work in Art on Paper:
Carolyn Russell, Long Haul Weaver, giclee print
The poem written on the saw reads:
“Long Haul Weaver of Gossamer fine Trust
In Search of Magician who thoroughly
Knows his pockets
Seeking fields of endless possibilities
Clumsy Charmers need not Apply”
The writing is part of every piece and it is not random rather created for each still life
The body of work is titled “Tinkers Dam”.
A popular etymology of a tinkers dam is that tinkers (people that used to travel around the countryside repairing things such as a kitchen pot with a hole in it) used a small piece of dough or clay, a dam, to stop the flow of solder until it solidified. The dam was single use, and was thrown away afterwards as useless.
Recently I have helped clean out my parents home of 50 years. It is the house my siblings and I all grew up in. There were many objects I couldn’t bear to throw into the trash. A myriad of old boxes filled with the remains of a family’s lifetime of accumulated possessions.
The absurd and the valuable sit side by side in these boxes I now have in my basement. Objects connected to my childhood and youth that I struggle to sort through knowing that I can’t keep everything. Much of this stuff is valueless and insignificant as most people wouldn’t give a Tinkers Dam for it.
My idea was that if I photographed the objects then I would have the image (and memory) and then I would be able to let go of the object.
So I began creating still life tableaux with the objects. I began placing objects together and they formed clusters. I was interested in the juxtaposition of all the ironic and and paradoxical constellations created with the objects.
I began to include a brief piece of writing in each tableau. Metaphors emerged unexpectedly and with each new viewing, a unique encyclopedia of references was created with the writing and objects.
The writings became my brief description and sort of profile of my mindful yearnings and longings in day to day life.
I began to recognize the writing as a sort of personal ad that I could invest understanding and meaning to otherwise unmentionable behavior and patterns human experience involves.
The work feels like an attempt to reconnect art and life. A life that has become burdensome with a recognizable glimmer of redemption and recovery of joy in art making.