Homage to Tom Selleck (jokingly referencing his famous mustache, but this form could be easily interpreted as something else), postcard, aluminum, pewter, 4 x 6 inches
At Illinois State University's College of Fine Arts, we make postcards every year to be sold in a silent auction for the benefit of our student scholarship funds. Friends of the Arts, a benevolent group of people from our community, who support the Arts at the University, hosts this event. It is a well-conceived and totally successful fundraiser that has come to include the talents of many artists in the University’s community.
I always encourage my sculpture students to fabricate at least one postcard benefit piece. We customarily make the cards from metal, using our processes to cast pewter and aluminum. Our postcards are almost always three-dimensional. Some students will make two or more cards. This is a fun process, and it provides a break from our normal curricular routines while helping the student community.
One of the postcards I made this year was an aluminum plate with a pewter mustache attached to the front of the card. With the advice of my graduate student, Emily, we named the card Homage to Tom Selleck. This was a good laugh, conjuring Hollywood’s most famous moustache.
When I delivered the mustachioed postcard to the College of Fine Arts office, the secretary, Kathryn, looked at the work with such delight and a strange knowing, as if she already knew about the title of the card.
“It’s called Homage to Tom Selleck.”
She looked at me with impish skepticism.
“Oh no…no, it’s not about that.”
“What do you think it is about?” I was amused enough to play along.
“Those are Angel Wings.”
Kathryn’s face was relaxed and thoughtful as her gaze remained fixed on the card. I felt a knee-jerk reaction come on and I pushed it out of my mind.
“Okay…If that’s what you see. I kind of see it too.”
Homage to Tom Selleck (detail), postcard, aluminum, pewter, 4 x 6 inches
I thought to myself, “How silly.”
Then, when I reflected on the look of peace that formed her sweet expression, I felt a deeper sense of her kindheartedness. I decided I had to make her something similar…a small work perhaps.
Sometimes I wonder about the things some people say. There is a default method some people use to claim un-verified experience. Many people see the world this way, where finer things exist, invisible, yet active. Seeing things thus, is their given right. For the difficulty in knowing the value of working with others, there is the price of letting go of one’s bias (that is not so bad…smoking is equally as destructive for the mind as it is for the body).
If I am cynical to the point of shutting down when I sense small talk, or medium-sized talk, I fail to see the magnitude of the mediated experience…until those mediated ideas from the experience re-present themselves in another form. There is a bit of the divine in this, and I cannot find another way of determining why lessons come to us in endless patterns of hopeful deliberations.
For me, these other forms of mediated experience are discovered most often in the creative processes. I aquired a special camera a while back and discovered a system for making short video sketches using light and movement. This was a fortunate thing. These works are formative and still experimental, yet they cast meaning despite their simplicity. In one of the works I found something that made me think of Kathryn.
In all creative processes, small miracles are embedded within the fabric of the everyday, and you have to be still, watch and let their individual natures unfold. Kathryn saw angel wings several weeks before, and when a small vision was later discovered in one of my videos, her words formed the character of that marvelous moment.
I wanted to thank the wonderful individuals working in the Dean’s Office of the College of Fine Arts, Illinois state University. They work hard at administrating and teaching in one of the finest Colleges In the country.
Kathryn Anderson, Secretary IV
Barry Blinderman, Director - University Galleries
Brandon Burling, Ticket Office Manager
Pete Guither, Assistant to Dean
Lin Hinds, Administrative Clerk
Gabriel Johnson, Registrar - University Galleries
James Major, Dean
Laurie Merriman, Assistant Dean
Kendra Paitz, Curator - University Galleries
Tony Preston-Schreck, Curator - University Galleries
Nathan Rudge, Business/Administrative Associate
Janet Tulley, Assistant Dean
John Walker, Executive Associate Dean
Shari Zeck, Associate Dean
Also thanks to Tony Crowley, our Director of the School of Art, and all the faculty, staff and students who work hard to advance our School towards excellence.
photos and video copyright © 2011 by Gary Justis