For my series, Things I Tell Myself, I really pulled from a lot of random things that only seem to be unified by a theme of memory or nostalgia. It occurred to me that there were several phrases that I have been playing on repeat in my head. The phrases rotate or sometimes are triggered by a certain feeling. I thought in this series it might be interesting to take these phrases I tell myself and put them in the real world in some form.
When I was a child, I spent many afternoons at my grandparents’ home. They had this tub filled with paper, scissors, tape, glue, and of course glitter! I would sit perched on a bar stool in their kitchen crafting masterpieces. Along the perimeter of the kitchen above the cabinets were these tin plates, each of a different state. My grandparents love to travel and went to each state to complete their collection. Something about this row of circles with information on them seemed to tie my childhood daydreaming to my current adult phrase-repeating.
I also remember this cross stitch wall hanging my mother used to have hanging in her kitchen. It had a border of food – both healthy and unhealthy – but those that were “unhealthy” had a red circle with a cross through it. The center said something about remembering to eat healthy in a humorous way. Though I can’t remember the phrase, my mother doesn’t even remember it hung in the kitchen at all, something about the cross stitched words on the wall reminding you to eat healthy seemed to make sense as a vehicle for these phrases.
Another inspiration was from milk glass. Unfortunately, this one is so random, I don’t even know how it fits in. I can’t even recall the first time I saw milk glass or even knew what it was. But somehow it crept into my creative process for the series. Maybe because it is vintage and seems tied to memory? I do love their aesthetic and the cut out patterns. Many of my plates come from popular milk glass patterns.
A few years ago I began the practice of putting a sticky note on my front door with phrases I wanted to think about as I left each day. I found that I had negative thoughts on repeat and I thought by spending a few seconds each morning thinking of positive ones, it would push out the negative ones. It worked. Really well, in fact. Ever since, I have kept up this practice and when I notice that I’m not reading the note before I leave, I switch it out for new phrases.
At first I was worried the phrases wouldn’t resonant with viewers or that the plates were too personal. Some of these phrases are a little hard to admit. But I have found that many people do relate to them and it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside to remember that we are all just people doing the best we can.