Monday, August 23, 2010

shed project

Ever since seeing a movie a couple of months ago about street artists and graffiti artists who use stencils to paint their works on buildings, I have been wanting to do a large-scale art project. When I saw the old tractor shed looking sad and abandoned with some lazy and ugly graffiti on the doors, I knew it was the perfect spot for something. Cleaning out and fixing up the old house on the property had been rewarding, so  I thought it was time to give the shed a new look. But what to paint?

I had been thumbing through a book of pictures of hands that I kept on my coffee table for the last few weeks and when I came to an old wood engraving of a pointing finger from the 1800s, I knew I had found the right image for the shed. I chose it because it would be easy to make a stencil from. After all, it had been used to carve into wood for making stamps. Making a 12 foot stencil from the picture in the book was a little more difficult than I imagined. I had to divide it into 6 squares and enlarge the pieces separately on a photocopier, then reassemble them together with tape, then trace that image onto some stiff paper, then cut out the stencil and tape it onto the wall. The painting was the easy part. Somehow it all worked out.

What does the finger mean? Nothing really...I just thought it would look cool. I wanted something that would be crisp and recognizable enough to see from far away. And an image that would honor the shed and make a nice contrast with it. Something unexpected. When you pass by the shed now, you smile. It has a new life and you really notice the stark beauty of the structure. Now that it is done, I see that the finger can also mean "keep moving...there is nothing for you here" The parking spot in front of the shed has been a popular spot for people who are driving by to stop for a nap during the day or to do who knows what at night. I guess the finger is a gentle reminder that the shed is not abandoned, that it is private property. For me, however, it is just an odd and beautiful and unexpected surprise and hopefully people will pass by it and say..."Wow that is cool!"