Upon approaching my house, after you passed the salmonberry, blackberry, and huckleberry bushes, you’d see a sign mounted on the corner of the house, next to the fenced yard. You might mistake it for a beware of dog sign, especially if my dog was outside barking. But, no, my sign says: Beware of Werewolves.
If you were to enter my home, more artwork in the same vein would follow.
I have on occasion pondered what this obsession with monsters, disease, and death says about me. Recently it was brought to my attention while at Folklife Festival. This is a fair filled with local folk artists (both visual and oral), stalls filled with this-and-that’s and fair foods. I have attended since I was a little girl and my favorite activity was dancing to steel drum music.
Nowadays, I pick up a household decoration.
Last years selection
This years selection
As I paid for this years delightful piece, with my mother looking at me like ‘how did I raise this child?’ My husband smiling indulgently and the vendor looking at me with surprise. A picture of me standing there formed in my head- young(ish) white woman in a lace skirt, accompanied by my mother, my husband and with a three year old child on my hip and here I had decided to decorate my home with a gas-masked monster.
Now, at home I have those things one would expect a frilly girly girl to buy, lace curtains, a hutch filled with china but as beautiful as I find those things… I see equal appeal in pickled monster heads and robot bears. Even the occasional Sweeney Todd/Jack the Ripper reference (have one framed in my dining room.)
This fascination with the macabre, the awful, the dark underside drives my own art as well as my purchases which I’ve given up questioning. Still, it must all come from the same root. That part deep down that makes the serial killer’s habits more fascinating than the biology of bunnies (or some such whatever.) For me there is a beauty in the dark unknown, an ecstasy in the shiver down your spine. Something infinitely lovely about death and fear because they are a warped mirror allowing me to look past my own faults, to find an cling to that basic kindness and morality that shimmers at the heart of most of us.
Plus gas masks are cool.