Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 26 and 27: Books, Brooches and Things Made of Wood

December 26, 2011
Write about the things you collect, include photos, tell why these items are cherished by you.

I love collecting. When I was a girl it was Barbies, and stuffed animals, and those Madam Alexander storybook themed dolls, and rocks, and books and books and books. As a woman I'm still a bit of a collector.

7days: 7 Kofi Swank

My favorite collection is probably my African art. In college, I minored in African Art and I became a little obsessed with it. So obsessed in fact that I spent a month traveling in West Africa, through Cote d'Ivoire, with an Art History class. We visited several cities and different villages that each had a different artistic focus. Villages that specialized in wood carving, lost wax bronze casting, batik and stamped textiles, woven textiles and pottery. Spending a month traveling from village to village, studying each medium, and actually getting to try my hand at all of them was one of the most amazing things I've ever had the chance to do. Molding my own wax cast mask and then watching the expert artists pour the hot bronze in, waiting until it cooled and then polishing it with lemon juice to bring out the shiny yellow. Watching the wrinkled strong hands of a 75 year old potter forming a slab of clay into a tall intricate water vessel, and seeing five year old boys wield machetes to carve small simple wooden masks. I had to start collecting. 
The art was all around me and suddenly I had such a tangible understanding and curiosity at seeing how difficult it is to take these raw materials and elevate them into things of beauty and grace. So I bought and bought. Even for a college student on a budget the prices were reasonable. I bought Kente cloth in bright blues and reds. I bought my very own spirit spouse, see above, named Kofi Swank. I added some gorgeous Senufo and Baule masks, and many many gifts for friends and family. And I just can't stop still. I have a wall full of masks. I have a nail figure Nkisi sculpture. These aren't necessarily museum quality pieces, they are made for sale to people like me, they aren't actual pieces of art that were used in village ceremonies or dances, but they are equally beautiful. Some are wild, some in graphic in black and white, some are covered in intricate beading, but they all have a special place in my home and my heart. 

Though I have to say that anytime I start talking about African art I have this flashback to a visit I made to see an old friend in New York City about twelve years ago. I was staying with her and her then husband, who was a very modern industrial designer from Poland, and when I expressed the very giddy desire to visit an African art exhibit at the Met, he launched into a heated argument with me about how stupid African art is, "Why would you want to go there and see that? It is crap. It's made of wood. It will fall apart. It won't last." So in my head, and in my very horrible fake Polish accent, I just have to say, "It's crap. It's made of wood." I love it, sir, and I disagree.

I also collect vintage brooches, books, books and more books still, though many are now the e-variety, and photographs. We have a wall of photographs that starts in our living room and entry way and is slowing creeping down the hall.

Photo above courtesy of Joe Sands
Photo above courtesy of Bethany (thank you!)

December 27, 2011
What does your office/home/bedroom tell others about you?

I love this question and I love my house and instead of writing another post here on this topic, I'll just link to the series of Bravely Obey Cribs edition posts I did earlier this year and last year. In fact, thanks to Kristen, this reminds me that I still wanted to do posts on our living room, dining area and bathroom. Cool. So click on the following for our master bedroom, our kitchen, my office, and the exterior of our house. I think these spaces tell others that we are colorful, warm, funny, friendly, and that we care deeply about how our surrounding and belongings make us feel everyday. And that I hide all the ugly clutter before I take photos. It's there, I promise.

The room

These prompts are a part of our Reverb Broads December blogging project. Learn more here!


Anonymous said...

Have you read the book from Madeline Albright about all of the broaches she wore, and the stories behind each? Fascinating woman, and great stories.

Kassie said...

Yes, I love that book. Madeline Albright is kind of amazing and her collection is impressive. Great book!

Amina said...

just randomly came across your blog right now. in love with all the books and all those photos on the wall. and just checked out the post about your bedroom too. you guys are lovely decorators!