The Beauty of Containment

When I’m in arty mode, I find there’s something very comforting about having a small space to work with – a box to fill with oddities, or a compartment to embellish.  Ever since I’ve been small, I’ve liked things that are, well, small.  Especially if I can put other even smaller things in them.

aug 2009 download 194md

I am not alone in this, of course.  One need only look as far as Joseph Cornell, genius collage and assemblage artist of the early 20th century and Patron Saint of All Artists Who Love Working Inside Boxes.  I have now managed to see dozens of his pieces in person, one time risking severe disapproval from a boss when I fled a meeting in New York to make it across town to the final hours of a special showing of Cornell boxes in a miniscule jewel of a gallery.  Makes me breathless just thinking about it – both the wild cab ride and the stress of finding the address, and then the thrill of walking into a dimly lit warren of intimate spaces where so many of my hero’s boxes were lovingly displayed.

I’ve read much about Cornell, and the rather “small” seeming life he led.  He didn’t travel, he didn’t get out much, he didn’t have any big love affairs.  Instead, he gathered objects and images that intrigued him, and he worked in his cramped, crowded room and created things of luminous, lasting beauty.  He made boxes, and he made magic with them.

Perhaps there is something about having limits that allows us to think bigger.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Twitter

Leave a Reply