Recently, after spending some time with a large, immersive sculpture built by my art family at REsolve, a woman confided in us. She was told as a child that her singing voice was not attractive, and that, instead of singing, she should just move her mouth. She never sang again. On this same night, she told us she had something to give us, and presented us with some boxes that she was hoping could tour with The Brain. I’m unsure of the actual history of the boxes, but she’d had them for some time, and felt we should have them. After seeing our sculpture, she knew they belonged with us.
This might seem unusual if it was the first time something like this had happened. But throughout the touring days of this massive structure we called The Brain, it/we collected stories: notes, coins, keys, drawings, fabric and other gifts found their way to the shelves and books, and we carried them with us.
Some said The Brain was like a book you could climb inside, a shrine to other people’s stories, an unfolding of what Appalachia could mean, and a symbol of honoring what some others were resistant to hold onto, but afraid to let go of.
I speak in past tense because, as we set out to begin an extensive art mentoring program revolving at least in part around these same stories. We have just become aware that The Brain was mistakenly destroyed and sent to a landfill. And while we’re deeply hurting by the loss, we are at the same time feeling a deep sense of hope. We see this as an opportunity to show our students how to rebuild, how to create through devastation, and how, no matter what, the story and energy of a work will remain. And we want to continue the momentum of your stories, as we create anew with our mentees.
We invite you to join us September 5th and 6th from 10 a.m -4 p.m., at the Washington County Boys and Girls Club. We’ll be seeking your stories. If you have something you want to share with us, something you feel you want to celebrate, to pay respects to, something sacred to you that you feel needs a voice, we’d love to help the story live on.