Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Plasticville / New Year Type Post
These are things from Plasticville, which is a play town and electric train set dating from 1947. My dad had one of these when he was growing up, and when I was a kid I got to play with it too. Aside from my dollhouse, this was definitely my favorite toy. I liked to arrange the town, then rearrange the town, and keep doing that because that was the best part. And of course running the train through it and imagining the people and driving the little cars and crashing the train into them and building hills out of pillows and seeing if I could get the train to go up them and then it would derail and of course this meant that I had to rebuilding the track elsewhere and imminent domain would claim the houses nearby and I could rearrange the whole thing again.
As it turns out, Plasticville was originally manufactured in Philadelphia, but in 1984 production moved to China. I arrived in Philly knowing that this was going to be a momentous transition and immediately threw myself into over-thinking it, as I am wont to do. I've had a hard time selling my work. Even with (relatively, they're still one-offs!) affordable prices nothing seems to go. I usually resort to selling things for $10-20 to get rid of them and make more things, and I was starting to feel a bit redundant. Why continue making stuff if no one would buy it? These things are meant to be used, or at least looked at! Of course I can't compete with the prices of high volume manufacturing, but I was slipping into the trap of it.
I decided to stop thinking for a while. I have a full time job that keeps me away from the studio, it has nothing to do with clay or really any other part of my life. This has proved to altogether be difficult yet illuminating as I could cut about 40 hours of guiltless time out of the studio in which I was forced to step away from my work.
Still, it was not enough and I would find myself pin-balling aimlessly about my studio trying to resurrect a state of mind and a body of work I no longer felt connected to. It was troubling to pay for a studio that I did not much feel like using and in the end I found that by indulging in a 3 week binge of total mind clearing / tv watching / joy reading that was able to shake off the vestiges of whatever the hell I was doing before and look at my practice with a more objective eye.
I need to make things that are cheap to produce. They must relate to American culture in a visually broader sense; spanning a spectrum from the types of tableaus we physically and mentally avoid to those we intentionally seek. The objects need to be closer to the whole picture of the United States. I will continue with the theme of the knick knack, the undervalued thrift store object. I must aim for wit and optimism and hope it lands somewhere near contemplation. And I must simplify, which is by far the most difficult. The more complex the object is conceptually, the less likely people are to put the effort into truly understanding it. But I will still consider every minute detail because, honestly, I just can't help myself.
I have more plans, but I'll start slowly. I'm not exactly a New Year's resolution type girl, but it would seem that this has been a longer time coming anyway. Knowing that I have more time ahead of me than I've ever had in one studio allows me even greater clarity as to the level of what I could finally accomplish, and I've actually admitted to myself that I am, in fact, a dutiful planner and enjoyer of organization. That anarchy phase was totally ridiculous.