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It’s interesting what can happen when you mix sun and rain with one little Christmas ornament.

A few weeks ago, I stood outside my storage shed, looking in dismay at all my stuff. It is time to move, time to thin out this packrat’s stash of family artifacts, materials for dream projects, broken lamps, and wind chimes that need re-stringing.

I’ve got a plan. I’ll turn some of this mess into one big art project, a huge collage. I’ve stolen this idea from an amazing documentary entitled Waste Land (2010 Sundance Film Festival winner) about the project of an artist, Vic Muniz, which was inspired by people in Brazil who pick through the municipal dumps to salvage items for reuse and recycling. Mr. Muniz utilized garbage to compose giant portraits of the garbage pickers. Then he made photos of the collages. Not only did the process transform the lives of some of the pickers, but the photos sold for a pretty penny.

Maybe I can transform my junk and myself, in the bargain, I thought. I spread out an old sheet, hauled lampshades, door hinges, paint cans from the shed, arranging them on the “canvas”. And what about these old Christmas ornaments my daughter left behind some years back? I put them on the sheet, stood back. Hmmm. Well, tomorrow the creative muse will surely come.

Days passed. So much to do. From my kitchen window I gazed at the white sheet, rumpled corners concealing most of the objects. Inspiration lagged. And lagged some more.

Today I went out to investigate. This is no art. It’s just a mess. But look what spoke my name: this solitary Christmas ornament, scoured by the elements. With the aid of the camera, it becomes a crazy collage of red speckled sky and trees bouncing off clear glass.

I laugh. I take myself and my stuff too seriously. It’s interesting what can happen to a small globe of glass; and it’s amazing what can happen when I lighten up and laugh.


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Ellen Hamilton