Bryan Parnham, Penland student and soon-to-be core fellow, has been knocking on the doors of a few Penlanders, talking with them about the objects they love, and documenting the conversations on his blog. The conversations are unedited, raw material from the houses and hearts of his subjects. Inspired by a series that ran in the Wall Street Journal, Bryan asks his subjects to talk about seven objects they love.
A recent two-part post on Bryan’s blog features glass artist David Chatt. It includes this photograph of a shelf-lined window in David’s kitchen occupied with glasses made by Pablo Soto, Mike Krupiarz, Sam Stang, Ethan Stern, Kaeko Maehata, and others. Looking at the window through Bryan’s camera, reading David’s voice transcribed, one gets a sense of how David’s drinking glass collection represents a moveable community of fellow artists, guests who’ve been invited to leave a shape, a bright ghost. Bryan quotes David talking about a glass by Kaeko Maehata:
“This is my Kae glass and I would say that it’s my favorite. She made me a collection of glasses and she made them for my hand. I am a person who is extraordinarily proportioned and so I like things that fit me. I like things that are made for me by people that I love that are useful in my everyday world.”
Bryan’s blog has the totally unassuming label “What’s a Better Word for a Blog?” In a recent email, Bryan wrote to me about his interviews. “This project is meant to question the significance of objects and how an individual uses them to navigate their lives. Also, it’s an excuse to get to know some really interesting people better.”
So far, Bryan has sat with interesting people like Chatt, Elisa Di Feo and David Eichelberger. To me, Bryan’s impulse to interview others he admires is a reminder: if there’s no sign that reads BEWARE, knock on the door rather than strolling on. We are all collectors. Our collections, pared down to the most meaningful, contain stories, a storyteller, and an opportunity. One only need try.–Elaine Bleakney