Holiday tradition, since 2006 has involved driving from Boston, MA to Allentown, PA. The six hour drive was punctuated by all of the familiar landmarks and stops. It got to the point that from any given place along the route that I traveled, I knew approximately how long it would be until I got home, within ten minutes or so.
This year, that holiday tradition was (thankfully) broken, as I’ve moved back to the place I really call home. It felt weird not to set off Wednesday morning from the outskirts of Boston, pointed southwest, my car’s wheels coasting over the cold asphalt at 70mph. Thanksgiving this year was a mere hour drive, along curving back roads with high beams guiding my way.
I found this one on my harddrive, along with some other ignored goodies, and I really like it. The repeating pastoral scene on the wallpaper border is something full of brilliance, given the landscape is punctuated with John Deere tractors. I took it on a trip to Lebanon, CT with A. Kilton and her polaroid in tow, for Easter dinner at her aunt’s house. That trip is yet another series of directions and sights and smells and experiences that composed a holiday tradition that became my own. It will be broken this year; after all, I moved home and back into traditions that were only ever partially mine to begin with.
Gymnasium/Auditorium at CW Rice Middle School. Northumberland PA.
I can tell you how sneakers sounded on that gym floor, what the smell of the stage was under the lights. I could tell you stories about chipped front teeth, humiliating gym classes, and awkward middle school dances.
MassArt Metal Shop, March 5th. Boston MA.
I spent 2 hours last night at the forge. There is something ridiculously satisfying in heating up a piece of metal and banging the shit out of it to make an object. I spent an hour bent over a table with a TIG welding gun in one hand and filler wire in the other, running beads over 1/16″ pieces of steel. I didn’t really make anything interesting or nice to look at but I made metal stick together, I shaped steel into a spiral. Making photographic prints seemingly pales in comparison to bending steel, to moving a puddle of liquid metal along a seam to bond them. Perhaps because I haven’t made prints of my own photographs for a long time or perhaps because welding is a shitload of fun.
Since I’ve found I am not absolutely terrible at arc welding, I’ve been kicking around the idea of actually going to welding school and/or becoming an apprentice. I like the idea of being a highly skilled trade worker, of being in a union, of working with metal. I want to be able to walk away from a day of work, having made something, having a physical object to show that I did something that day. I am less confident in my art schooling and my skills in networking as a means to get a job or make money; I suspect the only reason I went was to learn how to think. I love to make photographs, I love to think and talk but as someone who comes from a working class background, it feels absurd to think that I can do something so rife with privilege, that requires the type of money that I doubt that I will ever see.
That said, I’ve been considering this the way I consider most things: doing lots of research and thinking. Excited by possibility, I launched into a week-long research project about welding, what you can do with it, where you can go to learn and so on and so forth. There is an organization out of Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston, called Women in the Building Trades. WIBT is an organization that is “devoted to helping women pursue careers in the skilled trades”. They have a introduction to the trades class for women and offer a pre-apprenticeship class that includes such things as math for construction, strength training and hands-on projects. In a similar vein, Tradeswomen Now and Tomorrow is a national coalition of tradeswomen’s organizations and advocates and is a fabulous resource. There is also a welding school in the Lehigh Valley, PA, Welder Training and Testing Institute where one can obtain welding skills and certificates.
What I am caught up on, what I trip over is of having a non-traditional career for a female. It’s daunting to think about being in a primarily male-dominated job place and all of the shit that comes along with that. I like the idea of not having to put on female-ness in the morning in the form of clothes and make up, of getting to wear boots and a hard hat. It is one part empowering and one part nerve wracking.
Sometimes, you let the photographs speak for themselves.