This week’s art assignment encouraged us to consider what we view as intimate and indispensable in our lives– then create a gif that in some way conveys the intimate and indispensable.
I’ve spent so much time over the last few days thinking through what that would be for me. My family? My friends– especially the ones who I have (literally, at points) lived on top of? My ancient copy of Dead Poets Society (the VHS that has sections that are no longer in color and sometimes lack sound due to extreme use)? And don’t get me started on the indispensable stories– The Bell Jar, Harry Potter, and To Kill a Mockingbird were duking it out in my head at the mere thought of selecting a single intimate and indispensable story.
For me, each of those is a link to some form of comfort. And the one item that somehow encompasses them all is my t-shirt quilt.
I moved to NYC when I was 22 years old. I moved from a rural WV town of less than 4,000 people (where 6 degrees of separation is a joke. nobody needs 6 degrees!) to the city that has been a beacon for so many wanderers and seekers. I moved by myself. I knew no one. There were 2 people from my hometown who were living there at the time– the older siblings of people I went to school with– so I had, as my mother put it, people to call if I found myself in dire straights, but I didn’t have friends.
I spent weeks hating the world. My friends had all moved to the same (not NYC) city together after college. I asked them not to call me– hearing their voices sent me into immediate tears. I spent ages wandering the parks closest to my apartment. I clung to my books. And I felt incredibly small and disconnected– untethered.
Meanwhile, my ever perceptive parents knew I was miserable, but wouldn’t let me come home. We have a 6 week rule for new adventures. Going to college? Can’t come home for 6 weeks. Moving to a new city? Can’t come home for 6 weeks! Still think everything is awful and that you’ve made a horrible mistake after 6 solid weeks away? You’re welcomed back with opened arms, but not one day before that 6 weeks is up.
So they gathered my t-shirts from sorority events in college, and my mom quilted my a comfort zone. Those shirts tie together my family and my friends– they’ve got memories of parties and naps and books and picnics and roadtrips. That quilt reminds me that I have a place in the world. That I AM connected. It’s intimate and indispensable.
This is my gif for the Art Assignment #3: Intimate, Indispensable GIF - Odin Odutola. I captured these images with my Canon AE-1 35mm film camera. I wanted the pictures with my glasses off to be out of focus to simulate my nearsightedness. My glasses are my life. I am essentially blind without my contacts or glasses. Because I was using a film camera, it was very difficult to take the pictures that are actually in focus. The out of focus ones were easy. I had to make sure I was the same distance from the camera as my test object was. I used my camera’s built in timer and took all of these in one try. Of course I didn’t know how they turned out until I developed the film. Satisfied, I tried to make a gif on my own but it always ended up being too large for tumblr to use. So I used gickr.com and it worked wonderfully.
When I saw this assignment I immediately had to think of my hair. Being a redhead is a part of me. It has shaped my whole childhood and adult life. It has influenced who I am today. Without red hair I don’t think I’d still be me.