What stays fresh through time, and how is that preserved? I’ve been thinking about the precise moment of creation, when something is unfamiliar and new, ignites emotion, until context shifts and the new becomes old.
I scroll through my camera roll’s memories to find what I want to draw. I feel the texture of the clothes I wore and remember the colors in the photographs. Simultaneously, it feels like yesterday and a separate life. It was the present, once. It has been forgotten, then remembered, then forgotten again in the staleness of tomorrows.
Through my chalk drawing, I wanted to engage with the concept of fluidity and a flexible present. What if the priority was not permanence, but the process? What fades and what lingers beyond the physical and why do I resist change? Does transience allow for growth and newness?
I write down thoughts I have when I walk by my chalk drawing on random days.
I acknowledge the past tense.
My fingers massaged chalk into the grains of the cement. The colors were the same hue: midtone, no darks, no lights — if I were to put it in black and white it would all be gray.
I got lost in the luminescence of the oranges and yellows surrounded by cerulean skies. Fingers kneaded into the solid flesh of the concrete, weaving strands of color into hair. I hoped the deeper I rubbed, the longer the chalk would stay. I liked influencing beauty. I enjoyed the intimacy, the blending, and the process of creation with my music blasting, despite the impossibility of preserving and protecting the resulting artwork.
I felt good when people walked by and complimented it. “Won’t it wash away?” he asked. I felt sad for a second, too. But this time, I wanted it to. I wanted to experience my hard work fading, putting love into something and learning to let go when it needs to leave.
What does permanence mean?
I took photos of this organic work, specifically meant to wash away, lingering only in memory until that too goes stale. Transform, then forget. In my phone I can look at it forever, until phones one day go stale too.
I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad, I wanted to take root somewhere, have some security to hang onto.
So, I took in what I couldn’t capture, even if I forget—the wind that tickled my hair, my dusty hands, the hum of scooters whirring by, fragmented conversations, the smell of a rebellious fall day that has the audacity to breathe like summer.
Can life, or rather “aliveness” be transferred, made fresh and new?
I remember playing hopscotch as a child. We drew in chalk towers taller than us filled with haphazard shapes (which I imagined as rooms). We never learned the rules. I drew yellow flowers around the oil stain from my dad’s old Toyota on our driveway, all long gone now.
Covid summer I walked everyday. I watched the daffodils blossom and wilt. I drew a banana in stages as it rotted- transience- but time doesn’t always mean inching closer to death.
Etched on the sidewalk, intersecting the cracks, I joined the tallies under “yes,” answering the powdery blue inquiry as to whether or not Carole Baskin killed her husband. I liked picturing the people that come and go and stop, just for a moment, to interact, add their little touch of life, their opinion, to this 2D conversation. (In a world where I lost all control, the autonomy to make a choice, even if meaningless, was superb. And then I watched the chalk dissolve after it rains.)
Tiger King was soon forgotten, replaced by “Black Lives Matter” proclaimed across driveways. Slowly, this conservative neighborhood was changing, I smiled, allowing a bit of hope, indefinitely.
Tuesday, it rained. I was emotional, taking solace in documentation.
In class we talked of the French poet Baudelaire and the painter Manet. They focused on everyday life, the prostitutes, the dirty cities.
I locked eyes with “Olympia,” naked save her jewelry and shoes. Posed, for us to voyeur, delectable but aware of our appetites. Staring back in defiance, she taunted her beauty. An offer or an act of resistance? The flowers poised over the bosom of her maid, Laure, perhaps covering it or presented as an offering, hinting at romance and sexuality. The flowers too, are preserved in a moment of aesthetic youth, like the woman. Flowers wilts and beauty does too. Will I lose my beauty? Or is beauty more than agelessness and physicality?
I saw wrinkled brown leaves dancing across the face, which was now faded from the rain. The leaves disappeared into the night, for some feet somewhere to crunch on. I never grow tired of that crunch, accompanied by the rusty smell of seasons shifting.
My mom is beautiful. She cleaned up our puke when we were sick as children. She let me soak her shirts with tears. It’s not her earrings I borrow that make her beautiful. She tucked her mother in as she prolonged death. She still tucks her 21-year-old children in sometimes.
I love the footsteps and tire marks that deconstruct, rebuild, and integrate with the piece now: mutual interaction. I like thinking about how my chalk is stuck to someone’s boot. The boot spreads the story of the chalk and transforms my static sketch into a living, expanding organism. What does it mean to share equally, to grow and spread and erase, together?
I had a dream last night that I was singing in high school choir again. We were given flowers after our performance. I don’t remember throwing them away, but I know I eventually did. I looked in the mirror. She was old. I wanted to run and feel the breeze on my skin again.
Ends aren’t always bad. Sometimes they just fade out, like the chalk slowly being taken into the dance of the wind. Something to nothing happens so fast somehow.
I ruminate on the subject, an ex-best friend. We don’t talk anymore, we changed from photography loving urban explorers to another line of contact information, slowly. The leaves remind me of her. We went to the lake Thanksgiving morning and posed like the “no drowning” sign for a roll of 35mm film. I can still taste the fall air mixing with the “new car” air freshener as we played each other’s music on our way to our secret rooftop. I remember those good times, we felt beautiful, but I don’t really miss it, the nostalgia left gradually with the changes. Those were the good times, there were bad times I felt stupid, and the times in between like the gray tonalities if you were to put our colors in black and white, eventually losing definition to the rains. I’ve been saying I feel gray for a while now.
Sometimes I still cry for what was and could have been. But I thought I’d feel sadder to see things end, I’d preemptively been mourning for a while. The severance I think I had been yearning for set me free. Death is programmed into the seeds. There’s something beautiful, freeing, exhilarating about a blank slate, a breath of new life, regrowth, the brown leaves will turn green, maybe I’ll delete the photographs, create my own beauty and draw new again.