I always wanted to make something that people would find a new thing about every time they looked at it, although it wasn’t the goal when I taped the first piece of magazine paper on this wall. I don’t know what compelled me to start my wall project, only that I felt a pressing need to see inspiration around me.
I began with fashion and women’s magazines, but I quickly learned that of the 500-something pages, only five or so would actually be useful. Even in those pages, I could sense that the photographs were just trying to sell me something. Funny how that becomes more obvious when you look at it from a distance. I moved away from fashion magazines and looked for something more authentic.
Soon enough, I got my hands on art and photography magazines and what a difference it was. I discovered Juxtapoz, The Great Discontent, Womankind, and a bunch other fantastic magazines that some local, independent bookstores held (I’m looking at you, BookPeople). With these magazines, I’d cut out at least 20 pages from each issue. After going through several issues, I’d have myself a small, but lovely, pile of paper which gave me real playing room. It was then I started to make progress.
With no particular deadline in mind, this project took a little over a year to complete. This is a wall of trial and error. This wall is a tiny sampling of what Earthlings created in the year 2015. This wall is what I consumed when I was 25 years old. I never thought this wall would have stuff to teach me, but I learned some lessons along the way.
One: Meaningful connections are always better than random encounters. When I scattered the pages around at random or tried to mix up the visuals and color scheme, my wall ended up looking like a giant collage. When, instead, I tried to find some kind of connection between the pages, a story was created. This reminded me that when we make deliberate choices, we can control the narratives of our lives.
Two: Find a connection between the pieces, but make the individual stand on its own. Early on, I tried to take shortcuts by taping a row of several pages together before sticking them to the wall, but that turned out to be a disaster. Either the weight would make them fall down together or I’d change my mind about a placement of a page and have to xacto-knife my way through two pieces. Taping each page by itself proved to be the most durable solution. I realized that connections should be fluid, not locked, and that we should always hold our own ground.
Three: When in doubt, stand back and look at the big picture. Whenever I’d spend too much time up close against my wall, I’d inevitably hit a roadblock. I’d feel unsure of what should go where. The only way to get over this obstacle was to take a step back and observe from a new angle. Some things only make sense when you look at them on the grand scale of life. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can get you through the little things.
Above all, this wall taught me that what you create is a mirror of yourself. This used to be a plain white wall. Now it’s a home to a cluster of galaxies and I live in each of them.
Writing prompt 13 of 30: Write about something you made.