My mother used to recount how she loved to sweep the caliche floor of the orphanage she lived in as a child. Broom stroke, after broom stroke, each had to be
the same...... straight and even. For her the chore was meditative and soothing.
This was the memory which inspired my fascination with brooms and sweeping. Many decades later, the smooth sand of a table-top zen sand garden can rematerialize the vignette of a small child rhythmically smoothing a caliche floor.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that we may be at a point in history where the broom may go the way of the horse drawn buggy, thanks to vacuums, Swiffers, Roombas and such. And so now we pay homage to this trusty household utensil. A broom is actually a very close, personal, intimate object. One holds the handle tightly and close to ones body when sweeping . Every broom handle wears away according to where and how the owner holds it. The bristles, likewise, take on a distinctive shape depending on the height of the sweeper and the pressure exerted with each stroke. No two well-worn brooms age the same.
The exhibit consists of life-size 3-D plaster imprints of individual brooms. It is revealing how the images take on certain aspects of the personality of the owner. As a result, when a large group of these plaster sculptures is displayed, they take on anthropomorphic characteristics. Inevitability there is a comment about the dancing brooms in Fantasia. The appearance of the plaster slabs is ghost-like, reminiscent of sarcophagi. They are much like religious images carved on panels…icons.
Most gratifying is the act of empowering such a seemingly mundane household object with reverence. Each owner/artist gets to actually contemplate/consider the zen of their personal escobas. Memories and stories are forthcoming and wonderful exchanges of life histories reveal themselves during conception and exhibition. As an artist, this is the heart of art…..the process of making art.