Going Home: Archaelogy and Evolution

We know that we are not objects. 

I think. 

We are something that is alive and changing. And there is a thought that objects don't do that.

But objects are alive. 

On the molecular level for sure. 

They are in a state of constant evolution.  

But on other levels, too, they decay and collect and connect.  

They change according to where you put them. 

They change according to where we are in time and space.  

I just visited again my little town of Wellsboro where I grew up. One of my missions was to give my 12 year old an experience of the Wellsboro I knew as a 12 year old and of course for him and his grandparents to have some fun together.  Another mission was to clean out (to some degree) some of my time capsules that have been lying dormant in closets and storage areas there.  There is a reason to let go of things, but there is also a deep perspective I get from rolling over the evidence of my life. In the end, some of it just got better organized, some if it got evacuated to my current studio, and most if it got recycled or trashed after experiencing it one last time.  

The objects I will share here are about tracing my own evolution, the evidence of motion.

The objects aren't what they were years ago. 

They are alive.

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4 of my favorite little books

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the alamo carved from bar of ivory soap by my dad as a kid

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petrified wood from the petrified forest in Arizona also from my dad's youth.

These are things that meant something for me to discover as a kid...my dad was once a kid too.  Going through the Texas musty smelling tokens of my dad's early days, was the beginning for my appreciating objects with a history.  

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My brother's bug box. We used to catch lizrds and feed them flies forever in the summers of Louisiana and Texas. 

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This piece of artwork is carved into my being.  I've looked at it forever.  The bottle shaped couple, her tender hand on his shoulder.  It's done by one of my early (and continuing) heroes, June Zaner.  who is married to Dick Zaner. Dick sparked my first adventures in art working with found materials. When we lived in Beaumont, apparently our house was temporarily a June museum. I was not in grade school yet.  I think this art infected me.  In a good way.  Very good.

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Apparently this game is called Wahoo by many.  In our family, I think it was called "cagada!" ( i looked it up and couldn't find a spelling but it means something like "shit" in spanish and must be said with a swarthy slur)  My dad made this board.  This puts it in at least 2 lineages:  stuff that inspires family and friends to do stuff together (nothing more satisfying than sitting around a table talking trash to each other with glee) and feeling the satisfaction of making our own stuff.  I believe the Zaners used to play this with mom and dad when the kids went to sleep.  This past visit, Grandma and Grandpa and Mason and I had a rambunctious round.

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The very classy list of albums that was my first columbia house order. I am woman hear me roar.  

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A very tall stack of mad magazines.  Many sketchbooks from junior high were ripoffs from this magazine.  Now they are in the hands of one of my artist/cartoonist/educator friends.

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My charming ceramic pencil holder from junior high.  Mom was always so good at using my projects.  For some reason this one never made it into rotation.

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My Penn Wells hat.  In some ways, the start for me in being in the community of Wellsboro was joining Little League.  What a smorgasbord of people I can picture on those teams.  Mr. Young. Mr. Keck at the helm. In those days the sound of the announcer floated up to our house.   That area of the town, still is a wonderful jewel, one that my 12 year old loves to hang out in, to play tennis, practice shooting basketball, but I miss the sounds of bats and chatter and the announcer.

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Some of my tennis trophies.  It turns out there's just no good place to put such things. These were hiding in a cupboard. But I liked being reminded that it was once very close to the center of my life.  I spent more time playing tennis than sleeping I think. 

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And then the transition into art.

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Album art. 

Surrealism was one of my early fascinations, but my first painting teacher made sure I knew I hadn't any idea what it was really about.  But as much as I tried to stop, the wonder of putting things together that don't "belong" together has been a recurring theme in my art.  Along with humor. (Which also tends to marry unlikely partners I think)

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Spending some time learning about making art was as much about destroying how I made art as it was about learning a new path.

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Fish leg.

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Figure drawings that didn't go well always were comic opportunities. 

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And surealism lived.

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 And realism

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The key to my first studio after college.  

As I played tennis with my 12 year old and went swimming in the pool where I learned to swim, I sensed a round warm web spiraled around me.  I am made here again as he is. I remember the wooden racket that my father had. As I practice serves to Mason, I feel the odd surrealism of witnessing my 56 year old body remembering with remarkable clarity how it was to serve a ball when I was 20.  It's still a joy, but there are fragilities in my body parts that remind me to take it easy.  Most of the joy is that my son is with me sharing this back and forth conversation using a fuzzy green ball. A new generation making the distinctive "thwop" sound that only a tennis racket and ball make together.

I took a pile of figure drawings and paintings back to my studio.  I think I will create some new absurd marriages.  These paintings were once about learning to see the figure and to echo it back in some realistic way.  They have something new to say, something now to echo back in a meaningful way.

In archaelogy we do not find the dead. 

We would have no use for that.

Objects are alive.

And we become alive more deeply in their 



Michael Biddison     woodsunarts@mac.com       610-247-8718