I love to read. Always have, and probably always will. There’s nothing I love more than sitting in bed, or on the couch, with a book while drinking some tea and so with that, most of what I read is very intentional; something I know I will enjoy, or get something out of. Whether it’s a book I am reading just for fun or with the purpose of informing and inspiring artwork, I am always looking and picking up things that are specific to my needs and interests. So, when asked to think of some books or a book I have read or am reading that take/s “unexpected bearing on [my]work,” I find it a bit difficult to answer seeing that all that I read has an intentionality behind it and usually there isn’t much to be “unexpected.”
…To be continued.
Upon thinking more about this topic I have come to see and understand that the unexpected doesn’t necessarily have to mean a book that would be unexpected to influence your practice but rather, how that intentional book may unexpectedly effect your practice! Below, are examples of two books I have read over the passed two years and continue to read or look to for inspiration.
Gail Collins’ book When Everything Changed is always a source for great quotes that help me figure out how to bring to light issues that women face/d in society. This book specifically initiated two photo book projects that took specific quotes from her book as means to begin and end the hand bound photo book I created.
Believe it or not, I also love to look at vintage cook books for inspiration. Usually you can find a cheeky quote or two about women in the kitchen and how they are supposed to make the perfect casserole for their husband and have it ready as soon as he gets home from work. (Something I often now find comical, but it shines a real light on how things used to be for women in our world).
A current book I am reading is titled, Domestic Space edited by Inga Bryden and Janet Floyd. Within the text is multiple articles and I am currently reading Tranquil Havens? Critiquing the idea of home as the middle-class sanctuary. So far the article has provided some interesting information in regards to thinking about sections of a home as workspaces and/or thinking about the interpretation of space based on who entered them and when. For example, a servant who woke up early to scrub/polish the interior of the fireplace and then replenish the fire would look at that space throughout the day remembering the hours of labour and hard work put into it, but perhaps the man of the house who enters that same space upon waking up would be proud of his wealth reflected in the shining silver and even welcomed and comforted by the warmth of the fire. The hours of labour and extensive work are not a thought in his mind. So, I begin to wonder if we still see these same sort of divisions of workspace and interpretative difference in the home today. Thinking about spaces like “man caves” reserved for men and their buddies, and the bedroom, kitchen, or living space still being reserved as feminine spaces, is this really prevalent now? What kinds of items within a home are deemed as feminine or male? What areas would a male look at with pride while a woman looks at with exhaustion and anguish, remembering the labor and work put into it?
So currently, reading about 18th century victorian homes and the division of classes within them, I am “unexpectedly” thinking about how those same principles and ideas are within the world today and figuring out how as an artist I can explore that concept and bring it into conversation.