There are a few lines in my TEDx talk (Precious: Making a Plan for Your Precious Possessions) that are bittersweet. They come right after saying, "Make a plan! Make a plan for the future of your precious possessions!" I continue with, "Who gets them? Do they want them? Will they want them if you share their stories!"
I don't voice the last line as if a real question. There's a knowing assumption that sharing these precious things will automatically result in a family's desire to want the items, treasure the objects, keep the memory alive. When I've delivered this talk, I have my audience carefully in my hands. They hear the positive energy in my voice, see the twinkle in my eye, and smile with me. They go with the flow; they believe this to be a truth. We all want it to be the truth ... but ...
... but ... what if it isn't true? What if nothing said or done will result in the next generation's adoration of these precious things? What if ones children don't want them? What becomes of these things? What becomes of the family photos?
I've been thinking about this for a long, long time. How could I not think about this when spending months and months altering old, anonymous family photographs for my solo show, Anonymous Ancestors. Every picture was "someone", someone's relative ... a mother, a brother, a niece, a grandparent, a beloved child ... someone special but someone forgotten. These were all neglected photos. No one wanted them. They ended up at yard sales, in antique shops, or looking up from a table lot at my local auction house until I rescued them for art.
While transforming antique photos, it became impossible NOT to think about the boxes of photos from my own family. Why? Well, my children don't want them. Sure ... I sent a stack to England (twice) but I never heard back ... not a word. I had to ask myself, "Susan, do you really want to die one day and allow these images to go on the auction block? Become some future artist's fodder for art? Allow others to wonder who these people were and why no one wanted them?"
My answer was visceral, immediate, and absolutely sure.
I'd rather be the one to dispose of these images ... or better yet, turn them into art! Ripped and placed in an antique commode, they seem a most appropriate answer to the questions I posed in my TEDx talk. Who gets them? Will they want them? Will they want them if you share their stories? When the answer is "NO", the plan is different. This is my plan carried out.
PS I am still figuring out what to do, conceptually speaking, with all the slides!
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.