Imagine a bedroom floor coated with the flesh of a couple dozen nude Barbie dolls, or the missing piece from the board game that’s coated in lint under the living room couch, the pieces that get lost and prevent you from completing your LEGO airplane, or the dollhouse furniture that broke when you shoved your brother into them, the doll head pulled from its body or the tiny green soldiers you experimented the melting process with.
That was the inspiration for this piece.
When given the assignment of a piece that needed to be bound together my instant though was that I would use toys. For anyone who knows me, I collect toys, even broken ones. I always figure they’ll come in handy later and well…they did!
I grew up through the 90s and 00s and it was a good portion of the generation that got an explosion of media shoved in their faces. Somewhere in the 80s TV stations were created that specifically targeted children, dozens of commercials advertising toys were on and off, toy stores were stuffed to the brim with must-have toys. Kids got several movies in a year aimed just at them with marketing schemes and billboards, characters covering bedsheets and accompanying action figures, dolls, clothes. You bought a Happy Meal and then there was another toy when you were just trying to eat. Most kids don’t keep them around forever. It’s disposable. They’re all disposable.
With so many bits of media, so many toys and objects coated in hot pink and metallic blue, made each one worth a lot less than it might have years before. Even the poorest kids I knew had ten Barbies when they only needed 1, they had videogames coming and going like cheeseburgers and it just never ended. You walk into any thrift store and you’ll find a naked doll with the hand chewed off from a dog, a dollhouse coated in dirt from when it was left outside, action figures with the faces scuffed off from being abused, teddy bears with bursts and holes and a smell of mildew.
That’s what this piece is about. An ode to nostalgia and the waste of childhood, the forgotten bits and pieces that broke off when it met its end.
Disposable Childhood will be on display at the Arno Maris gallery at Westfield State University on April 27th.
Until next time!