Friday, October 3, 2008
Right after moving here I made a decision that I was going to do some drawings about trophies, having worked with them briefly before. I went to some thrift stores and was horrified at how overpriced even the smallest little pipsqueak trophies were, usually around $3 a pop. I went to a trophy distributor early one morning to see if I could buy raw materials and was refused pretty outrightly-- the company will only sell you pieces if you commit to quantities that could furbish a little-league team, or several. So I put my luck to craigslist and was surprised at how many trophies people were desperately seeking to get rid of. I mean, maybe I wasn't surprised-- trophies are by the nature of their parts, cheap, breakable, and not incredibly personal. If you're lucky, you'll get one with your name on it-- but usually the trophies are produced before the event even happens. But I guess the fact that trophies signify and celebrate accomplishment and being the best at something, or at least pretty damn good, seems like a good reason to keep them around. The usual stories from craigslist trophy-burdened individuals were things like "my kids moved out," "I don't want to pay to bring them to the dump," or "our ex-roommate left them here." But one email I got was from a real estate agent who was in charge of cleaning out a house that had just been repossessed. Apparently the family had broken into the house and trashed it afterwards. The neighborhood, Bayview, is whispered by many to be 'dangerous', which means 'black,' 'ethnic' and 'poor.' When I arrived, the real estate agent carried out huge boxes filled with about 50 trophies. There are about 7 different sports or activities represented, all from 1976-1998, and the labels have the names of 5 different family members. This was a family that was good at stuff. It made me feel a mixture of things-- sad that a stranger (me) was going home with them, perplexed that they were some of only a few things left behind by their owners, glad that perhaps the memory behind them transcended their material worth.
The trophy pictured here is one from a community reuse center in North Oakland called SCRAP. I thought there was something interesting in how the couple on top has been rendered so that the man is the center of attention from one vantage and the woman from the other. Interesting also that it was constructed so that the male-dominant side was facing the front. This is the trophy I've been using for my first (maybe last) impossibly large trophy drawing about the way a trophy feels. It has a blue plastic gem on the front that I love and in the drawing it has 7 asymmetrical tiers.