Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Inherited Interest in Objects: A Conversation with My Father

James K. Russell's promo photo taken by yours truly for his exhibition at the Bay Harbor Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park, Washington next month.

I was having a conversation with my Dad last week about his interest in objects, knowing full well that my love for photographing them also comes from him. As a painter and assemblage artist, he knew what his answer was immediately: 1) He loves the quality of the objects and how well they were made. The old adage "they don't make them like they used to" fits in well here.

2) The "hunt" or thrill of finding them is also very important. Since I don't find my objects (and he does), the aspect of this that I can most relate to is the search for earthworks. The excitement of finding this often elusive artwork with vague directions out in the middle of nowhere is quite gratifying.

3) The third part to his answer is "the process of transformation." How he alters the object to create a new narrative and meaning holds his interest. I don't do this literally but am always hopeful that the story behind it changes the way it is viewed.

Dad's latest work revolves around his interest in old toys and secondarily, male/female relationships. I photographed a dozen of them in his workspace while I was visiting and these were some of my favorites. His use of plexi-glass boxes as a receptacle to carry all the broken down parts (including an airplane) and how it comments on age and disrepair fascinates me.

Death of a Heel caused me to laugh out loud when I heard the title. The detail of the assemblage is above.

Either way, our interests revolve around nostalgia. His is more open ended while mine usually chronicles a direct experience I've had with the object.

This was one of the first sculptures in the series which had been hanging out in the window of my school office for the past four years. I photographed it before all the wood chips fell off the paintbrush. Now it currently resides in my living room.

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