Tuesday, July 26, 2011

won't take nothin' but a memory

Julia of Free People said it best... "Something about these images makes me sad, not in a bad way, but in a nostalgic, why-do-things-have-to-change kind of way." The Dear Photograph project has been floating around for a while now, but I wanted to share some of my favorites here. In case you couldn't tell by the millions of maps, photos, bits and scraps in my paintings, I'm a very nostalgic person so this project really hit home.

Dear Photograph made me think of the oldest photographs I have, when they were taken and where I'd have to go to take a photo like these. It made me nostalgic for all the times I haven't photographed that have stuck in my mind just the same. There have been so many times in my life when for one quick moment I wished I could just stop time, like a photograph... I've been collecting eggs out of a chicken coop in Georgia, flying down a Montana highway a 90mph, sitting in my college apartment with my best friends laughing about what happened the night before, walking around in the Costa Rican surf with my mom, or hugging a friend goodbye at a summer concert, and wished it could last so much longer. I didn't want anything but that moment. That picture.

This happened the other day when I was riding my bike around Southie... as I got closer to the beach at Castle Island, I got a whif of hot, salty air. It took me back to four years ago when I lived in Georgia, working as a barista in the morning and a bartender at night, riding my bike to the beach for the few hours between shifts and ducking the trailing wisps of Spanish moss in the same hot ocean air. On the side of East 1st street, Boston (900 miles from Mallory Street, St. Simon's Island) I thought of that moment, and this one, and of everything in between. There is so much in between.

I wish I could be in all of those places now, while still being appreciative and grateful of where I am now, which obviously is a product of all those past places and times. But everything changes and passes, and if it didn't, I wouldn't be in Boston, sitting in my own studio, watching paint dry, listening to Mike talk about the Red Sox, planning the next move on this painting. I wouldn't be in this present, making plans for the future like I made plans for right now in the past. There is nothing to do but look at old photographs, remember old friends, cherish the scents and songs and hot ocean air that bring us back for a minute and then move on. They are now the catalysts to the life we are currently living. In the end, I guess being nostalgic for the past just means you did it right. 

I hope I am doing it right.


  1. so glad you can pause, and be nostalgic!
    i had a fun discovery the other day; I really
    CAN scan my old non digital photos on my Epson Workforce and upload to facebook!

    I think life should be savored, and to be able to look back and smile just makes it even better.

    Are these pictures inside of pictures? Or did you photoshop them? I like how you did that!

  2. Hi Kelly, these aren't my photos-- they are from the Dear Photograph project that is linked above. People submit their own photos of older photographs held over the same location :)

  3. Hi Mae,
    I am an artist on the other side of the globe in Australia and was so delighted by reading this blog entry I had to make a comment. You are definitely doing the right thing, we are all taken back to the special memories of place. Coming from a small coastal town myself, I really related to your description of your past present and the unique hold they have on us. I love the way you have talked about that with the old images inside the new. Love your work.
    Cheers, Jacqui

  4. The idea behind Dear Photograph is really interesting, thanks for sharing that! Beautiful post...I've been thinking about that feeling when you really want to stop everything and stay in a precise moment, or at least remember it perfectly in the future, and I've been thinking whether one should take a picture to remember or just focus on living the moment and creating a memory that will last...I tend to want to take pictures of these instants but one day I overheard a man say: "I felt like I was always looking at my life throught the lens of a camera instead of living it", and that made me stop and think.
    Beautiful post, by the way, I discovered your blog thanks to your etsy interview:)

  5. Mae,
    Thank you for sharing and following your dream. Your work and this post was a true blessing to me today. I couldn't help but see my dad and I together and long to be a child again.