Olaitan Valerie - Visual Artist


Journal Redux

For more than thirty years I have written in journals.  There have been periods when I was a consistent writer, setting aside time each day to write.  More often, weeks or months would pass between writing sessions.  Over time I became less self-conscious about writing.  Basically I decided it was all drivel, but it was MY drivel so I didn't need any outside approval to write.  So write I did, so much so that over the years I have managed to accumulate a box filled with journals of different types from gifted books with expensive paper to steno pads cribbed from my office jobs.  Each are filled with amazingly mundane bits and pieces of my life. 

In the past couple of years I have wondered what to do with these pages of writings that could not possibly hold any interest to anyone else (and, to be honest, are barely interesting to me).  I've imagined shredding them and using the pages or mulch or feed in the worm bin, holding a ceremony where I burn the books with incense and prayer or some other such ritual, or  just throwing the damn things away.  Instead of any of those possibilities, I've decided to use these books, pages, writings, etc. in my art work.  A no-brainer you say?  Yeah, well anyway... 

In the closing days of 2010 I have begun remaking the journals and I'm chronicling the process in this blog. 

Hand cutting pages -- all part of the process


January 6, 2010

I “found” this box in my bedroom this weekend.  It wasn’t really lost but I had forgotten that I’d stashed these under a shelf.  I have plenty of material, without a doubt for this project.  Instead of my fancy sewing machine, I am using an old Singer $12 thrift store find to stitch the “yarn.”  This is one of the metal models – a distressed machine showing pains of age and hard (mis?)-use.  How fitting. But it runs and makes a fine straight stitch.  (I’ve yet to figure out whether any of its cam stitches will work without major and expensive repair.)  It seems appropriate to use a machine manufactured years ago (and presumably used over the years) on this project/production. 

Discoveries:  Although I am decidedly not reading my old journal entries as I transmute the pages, words, phrases, sentences and even whole paragraphs snap into focus as I work.  I succumb and read snippets and make new memories of my discoveries, memories of memories.  Things that were so deliciously important, pregnant with meaning and emotion fifteen, twenty or more years ago are totally unfamiliar as I read the accountings.  You forget what you thought you would remember forever. What is remembered may not be pure or truth.  Maybe memory is not about fact but experience.  I have also come across other writings stashed randomly among the journals.  There are letters from my mother and notes from my father.  I’ve found some letters from friends as well.  These I have not cut, although I haven’t read them yet.  Ah, more material for yet another part of the project.

Right now I am working on de-rusting a reed for my table top loom to work on weaving with the journal yarns.  It is ironic that I would be stripping away rust after so much of my recent work and interest has involved using rust and considering what rust portends.