The apron as an artistic tool is interesting. Or rather as a metaphor. It protects and confines. I remember many days in the Litho studio sweating through my shirts as I rolled up ink slabs. All the time my trusty Pepsi apron tied around my waste. An apron, like a good pair of jeans, is only established after it's been worn and broken in. Years of dust and dirt, abuse and struggle. An apron collects the remnants of better times, every spot a reminder of a time before a finished project took form.
How do we chose an object like this? My mother collects them, her laundry room filled with racks of multicolored aprons each with a unique symbol and pattern. Given to her by friends and family over the years. And it seems the only way to obtain such an object is through a gift. An apron purchased for the self lacks the necessary character. An image placed on yourself selfishly rather than graciously by loving friends. No apron should be bought by the individual, it should be presented in a ritual, a gift or a prize, a badge of honor, a token of passing.
What does this say about those that collect aprons? And what does the apron say about us? Our image is a creation of the same principles that drive an apron to its glory. Our image, like the apron, is constructed through years of dirt and grit, through generations of passed down stories and layered lessons. Through heartbreak and love, birth and death, and anything in between. Likewise our image is not simply given by ourselves. We can only take up the mantle of reconstruction and redefining our image as we de-construct the image that already exist for us. This process becomes a continuous reflection and mediation of the image we have and the impact it has on society. On a state level our Texas image is based in a long history of cultural exchange from our southern brothers and sisters, Native American ancestor, and eastern settlement and exchange. To deny any one group its place in the overarching narrative of Texas is to reconstruct the story of Texas identity completely. The political pushes to do this are a result of that understanding, a result of a complicated understanding of the history of the Texan identity that is used to forcibly eliminate a class, race, gender, sexuality from the grander narrative of “Texan” and anyone who claims it is simply a “result of the times” uses the guise of ignorance as a mask.
So then why create an apron? Why not build political movements and thesis, why not storm the capital and promote political change? Why not encourage positive growth and understanding of culture and participate in the larger exchange of education and information?
For me the creation of the image is only the primary entrance into a topic. The image (object) is a tool. In my eyes (and it could be entirely different in yours) the object is a visual metaphor for a complicated topic. When the object becomes fetishized we overlook the importance of what the object represents. This is the reason I create in a way that doesn't focus on the ability to be archived. Only through the understanding that the object will degrade can we understand the importance of observing its message while it exist. And more importantly is what the object can do to facilitate a conversation in the now rather than in the future.
The object has two primary lives (hopefully). The object of the now has a purpose and function of facilitating and explaining a wider complicated issue. The object of the future is an object appreciated for its (hopeful) facilitation of that conversation. The importance of a future object is the value it brought or the purpose it served. The apron is an object that serves these two primary lives. The functional use of the now and the future use of the nostalgia. We remember the times spent with our mothers in the kitchen baking, or the late nights at the Litho studios, or the solitary of a working studio.
So this relationship is important, the balance of memory and conversation the push and pull of nostalgia and progress is a central theme to my work and on a wider range to the appreciation and creation of a wider more complicated and inclusive world. Like the multicolored rack of aprons that hang in my mother’s laundry room the identity of the future is one not dominated by a singular being but spread and varied.