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|Shadow Boxes by Tracy Hambley|
Books of Knowledge
My shadow boxes are influenced by my love of writing and collecting. For years I have been rummaging through flea markets, antique shops and attics acquiring a huge bounty of vintage objects and paper memorabilia. I use these items as narrative to explore a wide variety of themes all presented in a 1 ½" deep shadow box constructed of foamcore and illustration board, which are then framed in wood and sealed with glass. Using seemingly commonplace found objects-game boards, toys, eggs, maps, rulers, postcards, watch faces, to name just a few- I hope to beckon the viewer into a world that at first seems distantly magical and nostalgic, but upon further inspection inspires them to make a personal connection based on their own memories and experiences.
Did you ever try to cut the face off a violin or take apart a 1933 Corona typewriter that is made from the same metal used to construct Army tanks? Ever cut a microscope in half with a hack saw only to lose the use of your arm for two days? Ever extract keys from an old piano or take apart a broken grandfather clock without damaging the face? Ever glue hundreds of pearls on a spoon or hundreds of shells on a wooden box? I have-and more-and I have the scars and failing eyesight to prove it.
Keys to Knowledge
Because of the age and condition of many of the items I use in my art, it is necessary for me to use several different types of glues, silicones and adhesives to secure these items into my shadow boxes. These finicky, old objects react well to some glues, while rejecting others. To compound this picayune behavior, some objects-due to their size and weight and even after my expert surgical techniques-must be wired, nailed or screwed into the foamcore backing of each box.
Each shadow box is a one of a kind creation. I may recreate a theme but duplicate it exactly? Not a chance. How can you duplicate a soldier's letters written during WW11, or a high school student's Botany assignment with flowers pressed between the pages of a notebook dated 1936 or hand colored maps from the 1800s? Much like you can never duplicate a memory or experience, the same sentiment holds true for my shadow boxes.
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