Friday, May 16, 2008

Dixon Stetler: Glove Palapa

Hoorah! The Palapa is finished. It took longer that I thought it would, which wasn't really that long anyway. I'm still on the fence about a bench. A little distance will provide clarity on the issue.

Inspired by the thatched roof palapas in Belize, the glove palapa provides shade. Palapas are everywhere down there. They are all the same basic construction, yet each one is a little different. I am a big fan of repetition and variety. As a thatched roof, the gloves maintain part of their original purpose of nurturing and protection against the elements.

Art supplies are everywhere! You don't need a kit from A.C. Moore to create. Canvas and paint cost way too much anyway. Rather than buy more stuff, I like to reuse some of the abundant materials I find in a few select dumpsters, in undisclosed locations. (Too bad it's illegal to find useful things in your neighbors trash!) Gloves are such a personal item, with meaning built right in. We've all had a pair.

We've all experienced the loss of one, or that moment when your finger finally pokes through and the original function of the glove ceases. It takes many to make it work. I have learned a great deal about "People Helping People" from Bob Brown. By giving an ordinary disposable object, this collaborative project becomes accessable to all. People who don't usually make art can participate without intimidation.

The stories told by glove donors were a very important part of the process, where and when and how. Many of the gloves were worn to special events or gifts from a loved one. I have great friends who dodge oncoming traffic to rescue gloves from busy intersections. Hockey gloves used as a dog toy, bee keeping gloves from a film set, and "my daughter's first gardening gloves" all became part of the palapa. Folks visit the palapa and identify their glove. They point and say "Oh! There's mine!" I hope they feel a sense of ownership in the piece. The real heroes of this project are the fine garbage men of Wilmington. They donated hundreds of their worn out gloves to the cause. They are very excited to visit this fruit of their labor, at all places, the Cameron Art Museum.

-posted by Dixon Stetler

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