Monday, December 10, 2007

Beach Junk Girl

So, my co-worker Emma enjoys bringing dead things home with her from her days outings. Much like a cat or an 8 year old boy. Don’t get me wrong I find it as a strangely admirable trait. If only I could find the beauty in a fruit bat with maggots vying for space in a desiccated orifice. Well, appreciate it enough anyway to invite it into my home.

She not only gets excited over carcasses, but even refuse, mostly of the flotsam nature, however my first experience with her collecting habit occurred on the side of a forested slope. She wrestled a round object from the viney understory and held up the most horrific doll's head I had ever seen. It’s stringy hair was wet and greenish brown. One half-lidded eye resembled a severely beaten prostitute.

“I’ll cut off her hair and put it in my garden with the others.” She said


A few weekends ago she found an endangered sea turtle skull on the beach. Without hesitation she picked it up off the sand held it to her nose and grimaced. At that point I would have put it back and felt fulfilled just to have seen it. She never lost her grip on the rotting sea creature. In fact when I mentioned that it probably was not a good idea walking around carrying the severed head of an endangered animal she promptly set it in her shoulder bag. We ended up driving home with it rolling around in the back of the van. Greasy rot wafting up front every now and then with the breeze.

Now, we are housed in hotel rooms. Thankfully separate rooms. For a week she stored her prize in the bathroom sink.

“Yeah it’s bad when I go to brush my teeth in the morning and there’s this smelly turtle head sitting there.”

Like her need to collect unusual beauty, her determination was admirable. Two weeks later however, the head found its place just beyond the margin of the tree line behind our hotel. The only really viable option for that situation, but I anticipate more turtle heads in her future, maybe one will be a keeper.

I did not truly appreciate her eye for the discarded and decaying until she came back from a weekend trip to the northern beaches of Okinawa proudly displaying what she called “One Legged Orphan Beach Junk Girl”.

“Wow” I said.

It truly takes talent to make art of this substance. And by that I mean depth and creativity. As for substance I think I noted a doll leg, flip flop, rusty lure, bobbers, plastic webbing, beach wood and coral. Mercifully nothing that could be described as a vertebrate.

To me the sculpture seems somewhat of a self portrait.

“If only I had kept that old doll head” she said contemplating the pinnacle of her creation.


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