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Lara Eckener

Diorama of a woman exploding

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i make things

Collage Stories: Collecting My Heart For Display

In 2016 the Boston arm of my company moved office buildings, going from Copley Square down to the Financial District. I am told that the building in Copley wanted a million dollars a month in rent. That seems like an exorbitant sum, but considering what some of my friends pay for small Boston apartments in not!Back Bay, I can believe that some building management company somewhere believes that’s a fair asking price.

Because of this move, departments across the building were cleaning out old research materials that had been sitting for years, sometimes decades, just waiting to be used again as the world changed, moving on to favor digital asset discovery and leaving them behind. The art department started filling tables with old books about places and people and nature and clip art, and I, like the pack rat I am, started slowly ferrying loads of them home on the T, as many as my backpack could carry. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for, but I knew they were full of beauty that could be reclaimed and re-contextualized, or simply appreciated. Though, if I’m being honest, my appreciation has always included at least a little destruction.

I do not consider myself a visual artist and honestly, I’m not sure if I should aspire to be one. I have no art training. I have no sense of how color should work. I have the barest understanding of space and form. Even still, I sometimes itch to make visual art. To tell stories with something other than my belabored words. Sometimes the words simply won’t out and I’m left flailing, reaching for anything I can to try to capture the overpowering feeling that has its hold on me. In the summer of 2016, thanks to the office move, I finally had something to reach for.

What you’ll find below the cut is a selection of collages I made in 2016 and 2017 along with short descriptions of what I was reeling from when I made them. They were initially posted elsewhere as they were created, but I wanted to collect them here as well, so they could live next to my other creations. I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to be using this blog, but I figure if nothing else, giving a complete picture of what I create and what I want to create is a good place to start. I hope you enjoy these anxieties, fears, and my futile attempts to puzzle my way to a home that never existed, but that I keep trying to build nonetheless.

Continue reading “Collage Stories: Collecting My Heart For Display”

Playing The Tears on repeat.

The holidays has been extra hard this year for a lot of reasons, but the chief among them are grief and depression and just feeling like I’ve failed everyone I’ve ever met by not being a better version of myself. Every time I think about sitting down to write about it, even a private version of it, I feel preemptively embarrassed by all of those things and then the fact that I have all of these other feelings about them. So I painted them instead. Is this less embarrassing? Probably not. Oh well.

These are the rough progression of what it’s felt like to go from a world where a certain love existed, to a world without it. I’ve felt engulfed by sadness as of late and I’m not quite sure how to shake it. Maybe I never will.

These are presented with apologies to all the real artists that I love and could never hope to emulate.

Natasha, Pierre, and the vest I wish I was brave enough to wear everywhere.

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is a musical based on a 70 page section of War & Peace that was written by mad genius and man-who-is-definitely-a-bear-magicked-to-look-like-a-man Dave Malloy. It’s a wondrous, eclectic, maddening, and beautiful work of art that I would never have seen if my friends hadn’t become obsessed with it and invited me along to New York with them over one weekend in the summer to see it. I am, as I often am when these things happen, so glad that I said yes.

I’d heard the music for the show from proximity with the people who loved it, and I thought it was fine. Interesting. Exposition-y. There are lyrics that appear to be stage directions, and after seeing it I learned that there are also stage directions that appear to be lyrics. The action is set in 19th century Russia (we write letters, we write letters), but it maintains a 21st century storytelling sensibility and draws from the full history of music and spectacle. I don’t want to spoil everything, lest you might some day be able to see it for yourself, but I do need to tell you that there’s an 80s techno party breakdown in the middle that I was not expecting and it TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. What can I say? I’m into the shiny, blinky shit.

Whatever you think this show is, it’s probably that and eight other things Malloy found in his pockets. And I love it. I mean, JUST LISTEN TO THIS.

Many of my friends love it, and we were all distraught when we heard that the broadway run was closing, leaving a pirogi and decadence shaped hole in our lives. So we did what any normal theater nerds would do when the fire was raining down, we threw a party! It was a costume party. We made souvenirs and listened to the show and sang along.

One of my favorite things about seeing the show live was the costumes. I’m a huge fan of both anachronism and context, so when the company members came into the cheap seats wearing 80s punk vests created by the costume designer I was taken with them immediately. Of course, when we decided to have a costume party I had to take the excuse to make a ridiculous 80s punk vest for myself.

npatgc

I put this together by cutting the sleeves from a button up shirt and dissecting several t-shirts I no longer wear, but had been saving for a special occasion, most prominently an old Amanda Palmer shirt a say Say Anything 19th century style shirt that I’ve had for ages. I imagine the character who wears this vest is running from the ghosts of the abusive men she murdered. But hey, aren’t we all?

 

It was too cold for fireflies.

I am back at it again, reading YA novels and desperately needing to share my love for them with the world. This time I read The Raven King, the fourth and final book in The Raven Cycle series. My feelings about the book overall are complicated, but my feelings about the third chapter are simple and pure. It’s one of the most beautiful chapters of anything that I’ve ever read. in this chapter we get to see our son Ronan Lynch at the home he loves, surrounded by beautiful things that he’s made. I identify so heavily with Ronan and his fears that I teared up a little and I’m not ashamed about it. So, a shirt.

I made and used stencils for this one because I didn’t trust myself with the clean edges.

dreamaboutlight2

It was too cold for fireflies, but a multitude of them glistened in and out of being above the fields nonetheless.

Those were his. Fanciful, purposeless, but lovely.

Ronan Lynch loved to dream about light.

Thanks for the straight teeth, then.

This afternoon at Crafternoon I got a wild hair and painted up a tank top I can use to broadcast my latest obsession, The Raven Cycle. I free handed the design, so it’s not perfect, but honestly I’m kind of proud with how it came out.

maybeidreamtyou2

The text comes from a quasi-flirty but mostly embarrassing (as we all were when we were 17) exchange between two of the characters, Adam Parrish and Ronan Lynch. Ronan has the ability to pull objects from his dreams and Adam from his shell, both abilities some of the purest magic a person can accomplish.

“I know when I’m awake and when I’m asleep,” Ronan Lynch said.
Adam Parrish, curled over himself in a pair of battered, greasy coveralls, asked, “Do you?”
“Maybe I dreamt you,” he said. 
“Thanks for the straight teeth, then,” Adam replied. 

 

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