Between 2010 and 2012, I made 226 photographs under a project I called “These Lights and Shades.” I took inspiration from the lines of a Walt Whitman poem, “These lights and shades, this drama of the whole, This common curtain of the face contain’d in me for me, in you for you, in each for each,… This heart’s geography’s map…” One of Whitman’s last poems, he wrote it upon seeing a portrait of himself by the English illustrator William J. Linton. Though not Whitman’s intended meaning, I’ve always preferred to read “Out from Behind This Mask” as a poem about two former lovers passing in the street. On seeing each other, they remember the lifetime they shared. Passion flashes between them and then memories and then they move on.
The moment stirred by Whitman’s poem is akin to those moments when I want to take a picture. Some bold colors, an interesting composition, texture, light, mood…all these things come together and I pull out my camera and take a shot or two. This is not as much art making as it is visual journaling. It is a way to move through the world, to acknowledge a moment, and to move on through the day.
As an affordable art product, I printed these photographs as postcards and put them into packs of 18. The brown envelopes had a white sticker on the front and one of the postcards on the back. I’d always select one of the better images for the outside of the package.
These were sold at various fairs and pop-ups and though ARTSHOP. In 2013, when I started doing INSTANT ARTSHOP, a version of the ARTSHOP project as an intervention outside of an art context, I took 18 Random Postcards to flea markets, grocery stores, malls, and other public spaces that are separate from contemporary art spaces. Each pack of postcards contained a random selection. Because it was impossible to collect all of them and because people never knew what was inside the envelope, the act of selling led to some great conversation. The purchaser needed to perform a leap of faith to commit. Many did.
The Complete Set
This collection of 226 photographs is the complete set of postcards. Only five complete sets have been made. The Complete Set of 18 Random Postcards is available at ARTSHOP here.
Each postcard is 5.5″x5.5″. The full set of 226 photographs exhibits in a grid that is 105″x105″ or in a long presentation that is 35″x315″, 26 linear feet.