Animal Year in L.A.
Animal Year was a project I did in 2004 & 2005-- I made a stuffed animal every day for a year. I enjoyed the constraints involved- I made one every day, and couldn't go to sleep without making one. Then later I would post a picture to my website. Because of this strict time constraint, the stuffed animals run the gamut from classic well-made figures that anyone would like, to lazy excuses I made so I could get on with living my life. While I tried to make a good one every day, I recognized that I was the only true judge of what was "a good one", and that was freeing. They all vary quite a lot in quality and approach, but there's only a few that I would really call "not good". In time I came to realize that some of my favorite ones were the ones on the line between good and bad, or just on the other side of the line (the bad side). Generally I feel like if you're only making "regular good" stuff, you're probably not getting anywhere, but I guess that's another topic.
Making stuffed animals wasn't something I had done a lot before doing this project-- of course I had stuffed animals and I loved them, and I basically knew how to sew, but this path was chosen sort of arbitrarily. Sometimes it was really a trial-- there were times where I was sewing during a party, or at 3am after coming home from a music show, or when I was sad and depressed. There were times where I was away from home at the end of the night with no materials, and had to tear my own clothes in order to make something before falling asleep.
At the time I didn't really think of this project as "a piece"-- I was dealing with the day to day experience of making a new one and didn't really think about a larger picture. I thought of it as an exercise in discipline, and as a reason to push myself creatively. I learned a lot about creativity, about making things, and about designing things, and I considered this to be the main result of the experience. I thought that the objects themselves were just things I made on the path. But a few years ago I took all the stuffed animals out of their boxes and looked at them, and I found the experience of looking at all of them at once really moving-- there were tributes here to good days and bad, sometimes literally cut from the same cloth, all given the same attention and respect. As with all stuffed animals, they were all animated by the desire to love and be loved. I expected that revisiting this material would be simply fun, to see a problem solved in a variety of ways. I mean it was fun. But it was also moving! I don't often respond with love to thoughts about every single day of my life, holding the day in my hand and saying "look at this little guy". I guess that's what's great about art, it tricks you into doing stuff like that. Hopefully others will have a similar experience (loving all of them). If not, I hope they have fun, and if they have a favorite, I hope that they tell me what it is.
In addition to showing this collection I'll have some new stuffed animals that will be for sale at the event, little guys you can actually pick up and squeeze and even take home with you. I'll also be putting up some new ones online as well, starting next week. :)
links / misc
- the website for this event is here: [link]
- Heavy Manners website is here: [link]. Thank you to Matthew James Wilson for facilitating this!
- This show was originally presented at Sutton St Gallery in Providence, and I put a few pictures of that here: [link]. Some of these I screen capped from instagram-- I feel like linking to an instagram hashtag is poor form. Please note: I was also told that this show was "really hard to photograph" and that this difficulty was "so unfair". So if the pics don't convey a sense of emotional resonance, well I don't know, Judge Me Not By The Snapshot. Other comments I got were "It's the best show I can remember" and "I remember seeing this when I was 4".
- I did a little interview with the Boston Hassle before the Sutton St show, that's here: [link]. I would love to do another interview with an arts mag or website for this show, please email email@example.com if you can make that happen. If it comes down to it I'm prepared to say that I'm at the intersection of art and design, fusing traditional crafts, modern art, and cutting edge technology to explore society's changing views on sentience and spirituality. But I don't need to say all that, I can also just have a regular conversation and say things that are like, regular and have meaning. Of course if I can't manage any art world promo I'm still going to have a good time, that's my way, my time-honored tradition. But if you're an arts writer in the Los Angeles area, why not call?
- The original version of the website about this is archived here, with some modifications: [link]. This website got picked up by a link aggregator service in 2005, leading it to be an early viral sensation. You can also see little bits of my extremely messy room, which disturbed some internet commenters.
- here's where I was written up in Reader's Digest :)
- I really shouldn't put this way at the bottom but I still have a few of the Left Foot Ashtrays left, and a few precious stuffed animals in the now-discontinued zig zag fabric. That's on the storefront, which is to the right of the castle (stage left) in a small tin shed. Or click here: [link]. For more on these mysterious ashtrays see last week's post: [link]
If you got here through a link, click here to go outside and come back in: [outside]
Archives of previous posts is here, in the coat room: [coatroom]
To sign up to get these posts in your email for free, click here: [substack]
To write me a nice message, use the contacts page: [link]
To leave a little donation to help in the maintance of this castle, OR to simply hear the sound of a large bell, which is good luck, visit the temple area: [link]
As always, if you're bugging out or need a respite from endlessly scrolling the feed, you are welcome to hang out in the castle as long as you want. :)