Hilsborough County Commissioned Mural, Acrylic on concrete, 2012, Hillsborough County Head Start Facility, 15’x 145’
Everyone seems to think that you don’t remember much before the age of five. I disagree. I believe that you remember in a different way. It only takes the right trigger to conjure memories from that time in life. Much of these memories are based on emotion and visual references. When you are just learning to use your senses, you make connections between stimuli and what is happening around you. I’m willing to bet that you could formulate some visual memories around a happy or positive experience in this time. Same goes for a frightening or frustrating experience. Much of my positive personal visual memory was of playground equipment. I wrote a short anecdote that explains the emotional connection.
Around the time when I was in preschool, there was a transition in playground equipment. We were all quite accustomed to the trusty, giant organic shaped objects that had become a familiar staple in our anxiety for recess. These hunky, poorly cast, dripping mounds of concrete that had a faint resemblance to wild desert roaming animals, were all we knew when it came to playground entertainment. We loved them as much as putting on our coats the morning of a fresh snow and grabbing a sled. One day I returned for school and it felt like I was pulling up to a funeral. My mom and I both looked around as if to make sure we were at the correct address. At this moment, I wasn’t sure if I could walk into school because I really felt sick this time. My cold, sad recess pets had galloped away and a herd of pressure treated 4x4s were grazing every square inch of my chain-linked playground. When recess rolled around that day, you would have thought those planks were made of popsicles and happy meals. I walked. It was sad. Though, when I arrived, I found that one piece was still holding on in the farthest corner. I was bolting over to make sure there wasn’t a crane attached to it, when I tripped and fell face down in gravel with relief.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized why the outdated lump of crumbly concrete had been left behind. You could slide on it. You could crawl under it, even though it always smelled like pee under there. You could crawl through it, hide in it, and hide from it, because you could definitely get hurt on it. It did all the fun things that it took an entire acre of 4×4 planks and boards to do. Most importantly, even though it was cold and extremely unattractive, once you go to know it, it was like a warm friend that would do anything for you and really wasn’t going anywhere.
I will absolutely never forget what those particular pieces of playground equipment looked like. It represented freedom to me, and still does. These types of visuals tend to stay and remind a person about when things were clearer then than they are now. If the Head Start Facility is an important experience for the children, then this piece of art has the opportunity to become one of the visuals that relates that experience to the emotion of being there. I would like to research many different styles of playgrounds through time. I would like to compose a mural that contains images of unique playgrounds and equipment that are thought provoking as well as striking and colorfully saturated. I have enclosed some sketches of examples of some of the modern playground equipment. Keep in mind these are just sketches and I would like to pursue a much broader range of images and compose them in a way that fits the format of the building.