“Make art from this.” Those were the words typed in the subject line of my eldest son’s email. I was honored, but a bit intimidated by his request for an art piece that would reference the material he had forwarded to me—a speech President Nixon was to deliver if the 1969 Apollo 11 Mission had failed. While I was not familiar with this “contingency” address, his subject line was a reiteration of the words he’d previously used when he presented me with assortment of bottle caps. It seemed his artistic challenge was, at last, complete.
Like most of my work, this piece contains a multitude of elements—references to the speech, bits and pieces from our family farm, one of the bottle caps, and some collectible stamps I came upon quite by accident. Stylistically, it is inspired by the collage work of Clare Goddard, an English artist I discovered during a trip to Seattle last year.
While my works employ conscious efforts, they also seem to call upon my unconscious as well. For example, when I selected the bottle cap, I was thinking of astronauts, space exploration, and the blue tones in my son and daughter-in-law’s apartment décor. It was only after I retrieved the piece from the framer that I remembered my son had been born during a “blue moon”-- a bit of information I’d received from one of the nurses present at his birth.
I have plans to deliver “Blue Moon” to my son in the upcoming month. I hope he likes it, but I’ve already told him, if he doesn’t, to feel free to give it a bit of closet space. This suggestion may sound strange, but this creative experience has been more about the process than the product. I will always treasure my son’s kind request, the conversations and emails we shared as I worked on the piece, and the memories that arose upon its completion. Therein, I sense the true art.