Last Saturday night I went out all dressed up in other people’s credentials. They looked so good on me, you’d swear I was the real thing. The centerpiece was a brooch from retired dean-professor-poet Jane Earley. Here it is in its original habitat, the navy polyester of Jane’s lapel.
Here it is Saturday night.
My shoes and pants came from the yard sale of author Nicole Helget. The sale was late last summer. I rode my bike which limited my purchases to what I could fit in my backpack, so I had to leave behind these pumps and this one great pair of black pants with zippers on the legs, even though I really wanted them both. Not because I wear pumps or pants, but because I was delighted to find that Nicole and I shared a shoe and ass size. Oh please. What. Like you never went to a prominent artist’s yard sale and checked the pant tag, and saw they were the same as yours, and thought, excellent! I’m famous-sized!
A couple months later, I really needed some pumps to wear to a work thing so I messaged Nicole and sure enough she still had them. She left them on her porch for me to pick up that night, along with the pants, which I didn’t wear to the work thing because the zippers were a bit much. But obviously I had to wear them at some point, if I ever expect to publish.
You would think there’s no topping that but you haven’t seen the earrings. The earrings are what nailed it.
The wires and blank frames came from Hobby Lobby. The photos inside are from the contact sheets of pictures I took in Nieu Bethesda, South Africa, where outsider artist Helen Martins filled her bleak and tiny back yard with more than 300 concrete sculptures of camels, owls and people. Helen and her hired man Koos Malgas shaped each piece by hand. Do you feel what I mean by that, have you ever touched wet concrete? I bought a box of it after I visited the house, to see if I could make a little statue or two, and I did, and it burned like hell. You can’t wash it off because by the time you realize it hurts, it’s already in. They used crushed glass to make the concrete sparkle. I don’t know if the palms of Helen and Koos were completely numb, or if the sting was part of what they needed, or what. I know they kept going for twelve years, making and making despite heat and poverty and the neighbors’ disdain. In 1976, Helen’s eyesight began to fail, and she told Koos the yard was full. No more making. She sent him away and ingested a mixture of lye and crushed glass and olive oil, and collapsed on her kitchen floor and died a few days later.
I believe she would have liked my outfit.
One thing you can’t see here is the glitter in the shawl. It’s not as good as crushed glass in concrete, but I’m telling you, layer this with the brooch of a smart person plus hand-me-down famous pants and publish-me stilettos, plus crafty little earrings of despair, and seriously. You could not be more ready for thinking, making, shaping, busting forth into the light and other fashionable acts of spring.
That brooch looked Celtic. I coveted it. I did.