This is a very good thing - a balance to my “other” side. As a little girl, my mother would take me back-to-school clothes shopping once a year. With innocent and unerring precision, I would head straight to the dress, coat or shoes that carried the highest price tag in the children’s section. It’s a “talent” that has stayed with me throughout my life. When shopping for a special occasion dress, the one I select will be made of delicate fabric spun from the silken threads of hand-fed imperial silkworms and beaded with bits of starlight brought back to earth on the space shuttle to be hand stitched over many months by blind Tibetan monks. You can imagine how much that costs.
When I began to offer my photography for sale, I did it the only way I knew how - by photographing subjects I found interesting and a little different maybe and then selecting creamy-white archival watercolor paper on which to print the finest inks. I’m drawn to 8-ply, rather than the standard 4-ply, mats. When framing my photographs of China, the most complementary mats seem always to be those of raw silk. In other words, I photograph, mat and often frame things I would happily purchase to hang in my own home. This isn’t sounding very down-to-earth or practical is it?
An Etsy teammate, a generous man and “knower-of-all-things” has suggested to me that shoppers don’t care what a photograph or piece of art is printed on because we live in a “throw-away” society. He’s right, of course, but those words were like a cold slap in the face. Art feels so very personal to me and I assumed it was the same for everyone. After all, museums don’t allow visitors to touch the art precisely because so many of us are compelled to get close to those pieces that attract us. Just like love at first sight - the attraction is either there, or it isn’t. You might appreciate all of those beautiful boys on the beach, but chances are, face to face, that delicious hum of frisson will only occur with one...or two of them. Closer inspection will tell you if the connection is deeper - if the colors are true, if the subject is balanced, if you are, indeed, drawn to touch and take one home.
Hmmm. I’ve gotten a little muddled here - and you must wonder: is she talking about art now or those handsome boys on the beach? No matter. Maybe I’m missing the point entirely -- holding on too tightly to my own concept of art when art is so very many things. I could print my photographs on toilet paper and they would still be interesting and unique -- though not so easy to frame perhaps. I could forgo the satin and lace this year and wrap myself in toilet paper to go dancing on New Year’s Eve and with my middle-of-the-country practicality, use what’s left at the end of the evening in the ultimate act of re-cycling. I suspect though, that my connection to “the finer things” is imbedded too deeply in my little strands of DNA to find much comfort in either idea.