My great-grandmother’s vase. I don’t come from families who have a lot of antiques, things to hand down from generation to generation, to be inherited. If I were to take this vase to Antiques Roadshow, they’d most likely say it was something mass produced and because of its condition issues (cracks, broken pieces glued back on, parts missing), it’s not worth much money. However, it’s precious to me.
I’ve collected a lot of art from thrift stores, all with a similar aesthetic — botanical, natural, mostly Asian, usually including some flowers and always birds. It wasn’t until at least 10 years after I started collecting that I realized the thing they all had in common, the birds. Every single item had one or two birds. I contemplated why that might be, why I was drawn to that imagery. I think it’s because birds seem fragile, vulnerable, with their soft feathers and mostly tiny bodies, the way most of them communicate through song, and yet they possess the power of flight, for them a simple and fundamental freedom, and for me so utterly impossible.