Today's post comes from the mind and bedside of Nelly Kate Anderson, a sound artist living in Charlotte, North Carolina. The featured piece, Cloud Strainer by Melanie Munns, is a small and delicate sculpture that sits within a collection of references and memories at Anderson's bedside.
What drew you to this piece?
This piece was a gift; I am drawn to its simultaneously rigid and fragile qualities. It is small and intricate and since my current space is relatively limited, it fit well into my collection.
What memories or emotions does it illicit?
Immediate images of dreamcatchers, spider webs, and veins come to mind. These in turn conjure feelings about rest and sleep, which I am always working to cultivate in my life and in my space. It transports me to memories of the hazy quiet of dawn. One in particular stands out. I awoke on an island, left the house and walked barefoot down to the edge of the yard, where I opened a white gate. A marshy trail through the woods led me to a network of grass pathways and meadows. The grasses were glistening with dew as were the spiderwebs atop their blades. I remember how cool that morning felt, and how exhilarating.
These images build upon an inspiration I already draw from spiders, how industrious and ambitious they are...so the parallel between symbols of webs and veins elicits further ideas of vitality and force. Since I also believe in the interconnectedness of all things, this piece is a symbolically strong addition to my collection of art and artifacts.
How do you choose where you put art in your home?
Disrupting my space by changing things is an important aspect of my lifestyle, so decisions about where to put art in my home is constantly in flux. Every object in my life has utility, and depending on what projects I'm working on or what emotional state I'm in, I give some work prominence over others.
On some level, I operate from the notion that almost everything can have aesthetic significance and so try to treat objects in my life with a measure of respect. At the same time, these things are ultimately meant to serve my sense of purpose and influence my contributions to the world, so I position and re-position them as points of reference.
This piece is currently by my bedside along with a bird's nest that fell from the crepe myrtle in front of the house. There's also a carefully-arranged collection of nostalgic artifacts: an intricate piece of driftwood, a peony bud, a skeleton key, colorful pebbles, and a tiny mirror in the shape of a woman's body my friend Abbey Lee Sarver made. These things sit atop two old suitcases and just below some photographs by Roxana Azar. The whole of this collection has a grounding influence on me while Roxana's work transports me to another world, thrilling me to the idea of making magic with the mundane. These are encouragements I need and so I've curated them to influence me in this way. They're all very sacred and supportive.
Why is collecting art important?
So many aspects of the world are sharp, even harsh. Art softens these realities and gives us a lens for clarifying our perspectives and our values. Collecting art is important because it allows us to express ourselves. If this expression is solely for the sake of individual catharsis or a grounding influence, it's enough. But it can also be a valuable extension of ourselves and connect us to others.
What advice do you have for people looking to buy art for their homes?
1. Keep it real. When you find something you like at a gallery, that's great—but always be open to the possibility that it might be tucked behind a pile of junk at a yard sale too.
2. Celebrate what you love. My roommate has a set of old Pyrex bowls that are milky white and pink. We rarely use them, but they look lovely nested on a shelf in our hallway. They conjure our pension for domestic things and we celebrate their form.
3. Ask yourself how long you want things to last before you put them on the wall. Sometimes, it's more important to get to live with a work than have it remain perfect for years to come. I have some prints that were made with richly colored paper and archival ink. They were sold without frames and if I don't eventually frame them with UV-protectant glass, they'll fade in the sunlight in a few years. If you're collecting work that might accrue value in the future, or that you personally want to have for a lifetime, wait until you can afford to frame and preserve it.
4. Consider the tiny shrine. Whether you live in a huge house or a tiny flat, create small pockets of beauty. I once had the opportunity to visit Estouteville, the villa owned by Beatrix Ost. Her mansion was so grand, but she had created so many moments of wonder throughout the space, that it seemed to make the scale of the dwelling manageable and wholly inviting.
5. Buy the work of budding young artists. The first big investment I ever made was a painting by a high school student. She was showing work in a coffee shop that experimented with sewing on canvas. It was bright, fresh, minimal, and playful. She went on to pursue a degree in urban planning and doesn't make art anymore, so I'm grateful I caught some of her magic when it was happening. While you might find yourself supporting someone's lifelong dream of becoming a professional artist, you also don't want to miss the chance to own a piece you love that few would encounter otherwise. Either way the act of coaxing more beauty into your sphere and thereby the world, to me, is worthwhile.