Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it is an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there...~ Eudora Welty
It always amazes me to think that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways. ~ Glenn CloseLast week, we had a neighborhood meeting to determine whether our neighborhood, Greenwich Forest, should apply for historic designation. It is a charming collection of homes built in the 1930s, strangley enough, as a retirement community. The streets are named after English towns: Hampden, York, Lambeth. The architectural style is upscale Engligh cottage: a tad Tudor, a bit Cotswold, mixed with the straight lines of Georgian architecture. They remind me of storybook homes with cozy corners, quirky angles, and other charming details.
I used to carpool through this neighborhood when I was a child of 10, 11, 12; one mother preferred the visual delights Hampden Lane had to offer as opposed to the main roadway, Bradley Boulevard. Our unanimous favorite was the castle house. Twelve years later, as a young mother, I took the very same route to get to the neighborhood day care center, initially with Brian, our first child and then, day in and day out, for years, as our family grew. (Two of my daughters work there now, just two blocks from home.) I must have passed by my future house hundreds, maybe a thousand times. One spring day, in 1988, a For Sale sign went up on the white house with the steeply pitched green tile roof and the welcoming front porch. I knew I wanted that house but thought is was an impossible dream, my husband ever the economically sensible one. But he was in love with it too. By August, it was ours.
Fast forward seventeen years, and here we are, gathered with our neighbors in yet another gem of a home, all of us concerned over the growing trend of mansionization ~ tearing down old homes and replacing them with oversized million-dollar homes. One of the first Greenwich Forest homes (2 doors down from mine) was slated for demolition and it was time to act. The turnout was good. Everyone was interested in preserving the character of the neighborhood. There was a lot of legal talk, of procedures, options, pros & cons. And then it was one of the guest speakers, Laura Trieschmann's, turn to speak. Laura is an architect and one of the directors of ETH Traceries, a women-owned research and consulting firm specializing in architectural history and historic preservation. Laura said something that went straight to my soul, artist-speak, rather than legal-speak. She said, "The homes in a neighborhood tell a story. When you tear them down, the story can no longer be told."
Story~ art is all about story. Your story, a culture's story, the story of a feeling, an incident, a moment. When we make art, we not only create stories, we preserve them.
It dawned on me a few years ago that my art was narrative, that each Fragment, each collage, each quilt told a story. I had always thought that my storytelling would have to wait until the kids were grown and gone and the house was quiet enough for me to finally hear the voices in my head. But stories do not have to be written or told. Stories can be visual, told by objects, images, color.
It is the storytelling properties of objects that I find the most interesting. It is their history and how time has marked them that holds the greatest potential. ~ Mark DaughheteeWe all have stories to tell. We live inside of a story, creating chapter after chapter with every layer of paint, every opening of a window, or step through the front door. I have just told you a story. Now go tell one of your own.
We need to be each others storytellers. ~ Mary Oliver