Paper Trail

Sally Edelstein collection of paper

Rumors of paper’s death are greatly exaggerated.

That surely will be the takeaway for anyone who visits my studio and home this weekend for the Heckscher Museum Art Studio Tour this Sunday, Oct 16.

While its death was predicted as far back as 1999 when a Microsoft executive declared that 20 years from now paper would be a thing of the past, it is paper’s very past I keep alive.

He sketched a vision of the near future in which almost all printed material- books, newspapers, and periodicals would be published electronically.

In the world at large, that prediction has been pretty prescient.

Big daily newspapers are on life support and oversize glossy magazines are nearly as extinct as lumbering dinosaurs. Both have migrated online. For all practical purposes, books are mostly read by e-readers.

Just as my parent’s house became the final resting place of my long-deceased family’s cherished belongings that no one else wanted but which my mother hadn’t the heart to discard so my own home has been the final resting place for all sorts of ephemera. It should come as no surprise to those familiar with my work that I am an avid collector of all things connected to popular culture. My home is filled from top to bottom with remnants of American history over the past 100 years.

However, in my universe, paper’s death has been greatly exaggerated.

While screens have more or less replaced paper in the practical world, in Sally’s world paper is still king.

My house is a home for orphaned paper. It is a loving, well-cared-for repository for discarded paper, those items produced to be short-lived. In fact, the more transitory the paper is, the more it is cherished.

Hold History in Your Hand

In my basement are the remains of the American dream of consumption, As I prepare to conduct the art tour this Sunday that is nothing short of an archaeological dig I have been knee-deep in post-war plenty both literally and figuratively.

I love ephemera.

I love feeling the history and information that surviving paper holds that often can’t be found anywhere else. They can reveal things we might not otherwise ever learn.

Ephemera, simply put, are the collectible pieces of history that document the daily lives of people. The minutia and stuff of everyday life; paper and objects briefly used, deemed useless then discarded.

Think of all the paper bits and pieces you use every day. They weren’t meant to be collected or saved but they serve as a fascinating glimpse into history.

It should come as no surprise to those familiar with my work that I am an avid collector of all things connected to popular culture. My home is filled from top to bottom with remnants of American history over the past 100 years.

Along with the thousands of magazines spanning 8 decades, my home is filled with vintage cards, leaflets, booklets, postcards, catalogs, ticket stubs, receipts, used checks, matchbooks, tickets, notes, letters theatre programs, pamphlets, workbooks, and hand-outs, to name just a few.

Produced to meet the needs of the day, these items reflect the moods and mores of past times in ways that more formal records cannot. They are a valuable primary source of information that offers a unique window into a culture’s past, documenting our daily life.

I will Survive

Some days, I’m just transported by a MAD Magazine

As artifacts of everyday life, most ephemera are doomed to disappear. But some survive. I see myself as both an archeologist and a guardian of our collective past. Preserving the past gives us information for the present.

I come from a family of savers though I prefer to think of us as saviors. Of honoring the past. The distant past is always as close as the things on my shelf and in my drawers.

Visit and time travel through paper. Hold history in your hands.

Leave a paper trail.

LI Biennial Heckscher Museumof Art

Huntington Open Studio Day Sunday, Oct. 16, 11 am-4pm $10 Non-Members Register online at heckscher.org/biennialstudios or call 631 380 3230

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. I would write more, but my head is spinning from the photos. Must. Be. Seen. In. Person.

    Like

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