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about The Keepsake Project

:: The Keepsake Project ::

catalogue for this project is availalbe online for purchase

I have always been interested in mementoes. What is it that we keep and why? What triggers nostalgia? What holds memory? What transports us to another time, or gives us the ultimate sense of comfort when we touch/see/smell it?

For me these are items that are often hand made [from my grandmothers or mother]. What happens when we are given an article of clothing, a toy, a blanket, or another object that has been lovingly cre- ated? Or passed down as an heirloom. These items often come with a sense of being cherished. In a sense they often become part of our understanding of ourselves.

I do not think, though, that it’s only objects made by family, or only objects made by hand that convey this perfect blend of fuzzy warmth and well being. I think many items can embody this highly charged emotional space. I was curious how these two approaches – hand-made vs. machine made – alter, enhance, or define our most treasured belongings. I quickly learned that a rock, a care bear, a pair of binoculars and an enamel pin can all hold and emote an enormous amount of meaning.

I think most of us have at least ONE object/thing/clothing that means a lot to us. Perhaps it was gifted to us as a baby. Perhaps it was the last thing your grandmother made for you before she passed. Or some- thing that reminds of you of a special place or time.

Nostalgia is a funny beast. We often see it as something overly sentimental, with a hint of saccharine. But in my mind, its true form is an almost perfect blend of wistfulness and contentment. It hovers in that magic space - a place where multiple meanings and poignancy are possible. Nostalgia can indeed hold space for complex and highly personal emotions.

I am also a collector. I aesthetically and fundamentally gravitate toward groups of things. Through this project I became a collector [collectively] of all things that we keep. The miniature quilt made by your grandmother that is stored in the tiny wooden chest made by your grandfather. The leather vet bag that was your grandfather’s. The teddy bear that went to Paris with you. The shirt that your grandmother em- broidered for your grandfather that you wore until it was almost threadbare. The blanket you have had your entire life and still sleep with.

I wanted to know about these things. I wanted you to tell me what these things mean to you. I wanted to document them. I wanted to see what happened when I took a clinical photo and juxtaposed it with a rendering. Would my knowledge of your item’s history somehow show up in my version? How does art bridge the gap between what we know and what we feel? [And is that really a gap?]

Thanks to Irving Street Projects and Kelly Inouye in the Sunset of San Francisco I was able to work on The Keepsake Project in the Fall of 2015. I photographed items from friends, family and the community [both locally and globally]. I carefully rendered keepsakes — items which now meant something to me because I knew their story. Story is everything. In some ways I see this project as a domesticated continuation of the investigation that Joseph Kosuth began with his One and Three Chairs piece. I sought to record, describe and understand. But in my version I was seeking to turn away from the idea of universal and turn toward the idea of the personal.

It was an honor to work on this project and I hope I have a chance to revisit it in the future.