Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crazy old ladies

A Yahoo group I recently joined is sponsoring an Earth Day charm swap, where the charms have to be made of something that otherwise would be thrown away. One of the participants made hers with items she's been picking up in parking lots and throwing in a jar, like old bottle caps that have been run over and are flat and rusty. She calls it her 'roadkill jar.'

I had to laugh because I have a roadkill jar, too. I just never called it that.

I love the whole found-object/altered art thing. But sometimes I think we are all turning into crazy old ladies, picking up junk off the sidewalk and trying to transform it into treasure.

When I was a kid, we used to walk to church from my aunt's house a couple blocks away. On one corner, there was a big brick house and, next to the curb, a big maple tree. The old lady who lived in the house used to pick up bits and pieces of interesting trash -- a feather, a shiny gum wrapper, a piece of colored paper or a snippet of string -- and stick them in the crevices of the bark of the tree. My cousin and I were fascinated and always looked to see what new items had been added. We never saw the woman, but we were sure she was a crazy old lady.

Now I think she was probably just ahead of her time. Just another artist making something interesting from other people's discards. And generously sharing it with anyone who happened to pass by.

I think of that old lady every time I pick up a bluejay feather on my way to the mailbox, or a rusty old bottle cap in the mall parking lot.

Maybe she wasn't so crazy after all.

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