Artist’s Spotlight: @postcardsfrombox39

This week’s artist’s spotlight is on @postcardsfrombox39:

  1. Tell me a little about yourself.

“I’m from a very small town in Northern California. I was always artistic and
although it felt like I was raised by wolves, my parents were super supportive of my
artistic talents. My mom would nick reams of dot matrix printer paper from work (dating
myself with that printer reference) and I would draw, paint, and make banners
relentlessly. My parents didn’t bat an eye at the stacks of big breasted mermaids I drew
after becoming obsessed with The Little Mermaid, and if they did, I never knew.
I took as many art classes as I could throughout high school. I worked my way
into advanced painting classes, won some awards, and smoked a lot of pot. I figured art
school would be my next stop but found myself at community college instead. There I
fell in love with the study of film and art became my hobby. I still made things, mainly for
friends and certainly for every boy I ever liked. I eventually graduated with a BA in
Cinema Studies from San Francisco State University.
I bounced around some and got married, all the while creating and making
art…until I got a career. My career in the Los Angeles floral industry ended up being a
creative one and successful as well. But with a creative career, I had no energy left for
my own art projects. Once I became a mother I decided to give up my career, change it
all up and move to Montana. I became a stay-at-home mom. Between my career and
motherhood I probably didn’t make any art for nearly 10 years.
Long story short, I figured out that the stay-at-home life wasn’t for me. I mean, It
is for some people, just not me. Something was missing and I wasn’t doing so hot in life.
Then it finally clicked. I got sober which led to the discovery that I was bipolar. But
through all that I found art again. Once I had that figured out, I was unstoppable. I was a
creative person once again but with a new medium all my own. Today, I manage a
vintage clothing store and have found a balance between work, motherhood, and
creativity.”

2. How did you come up with the name Box 39?

“I love sourcing old and weird objects for my work. Mainly thrifting and antiquing or just plain
finding. Before I knew what to call the art project I was creating I found a collection of postcards
from the early 1900s in a small Montana antique shop. The collection belonged to Mollie
Jermaine of Oregon and the cards were all addressed to PO Box 39. Her correspondence was
fascinating and I found it so remarkable that she’d kept everything and that it stayed intact after
all these years. I had discovered the memories of someone who lived 100+ years ago! I decided
to use Mollie’s stories to tell my own. I wanted to give them a new life and what a way to start
my collection of found objects. I decided to call my art endeavor Box 39 because that’s where
my story started and I wanted to “fill” Box 39 back up with memories. Mollie’s postcards were
the makings of some of earlier works and still show up in my work today.”

3. What was the first miniature diorama you made?

“During my stint as a stay-at-home mom I was desperate for a hobby or something to do
with myself. I found a miniature kit at the craft store, I think it was a little tiny greenhouse
or something similar. I thought little stuff was cute and maybe this could occupy some of
my time. Being a retired florist I went to make the flowers first. I made about three and
thought I could make more accurate flowers diverting from the kit. I made some
poppies, some daffodils, and roses. After that I put the kit away and went rogue. I
thought to myself: what would be cooler than the little vase provided in the kit?

Then I had an idea; I had seen vintage matchbooks at the antique store and I thought it’d be
cool if the matches were replaced with little flowers. I figured I could make tiny floral
arrangements just like I made when I was a florist. I got out the tacky glue and started
gluing away. The pieces started to take a personal turn. I was feeling anxious and
uncertain about life at the time and decided I needed to listen to my gut. The first
matchbook I posted was advertising caskets (I loved the morbidity of it). I used the
poppy, made some grass, and a field of red flags. It felt as though I had found a place
for my feelings and all of a sudden I felt reassured about myself. I knew I was seeing
metaphorical red flags in real life and now I had found a place to put them. From there I
was off to the races.”

4. Can you talk a little about the themes in your art: “Tiny people making
out?”

“Whatever I’m thinking or feeling ends up in my art. Through my work I can give those
thoughts, feelings, and memories a safe little place to live. I don’t have to process them
or figure anything out; they can just be. So sometimes my sexual self or frustrations find
their way into a matchbook or two…or three. Besides, I think it’s fun and cheeky.

5. Do you do custom orders? If so, can you talk a little bit about the
process of ordering one?

“The custom pieces I have made have been from admirers of my art who give me carte
blanche. I do usually get a little direction: It’s for so-and-so, it’s our anniversary (or some
other occasion), I’d like a matchbook or diorama. Occasionally I get someone who has
an object they’d like me to incorporate or utilize as a vessel. I don’t even know what I’m
going to make until inspiration hits. If clients are cool with that, then I’m all for it and all
it’d take is a DM to get the ball rolling.”

Also what are some popular pieces on your esty store and why do you
think they are so popular?

“To be honest, I don’t do great on etsy. I have made some sales on etsy but I seem to do
better at my shows. I don’t think the etsy audience, or any one really, is searching for
“tiny makeout scenes on a matchbook.” But, out of all of my sales, etsy included, I’d
have to say the matchbooks are the most popular. I think because they are a unique
canvas. Vintage matchbooks are just plain cool on their own anyhow. Whenever
someone recognizes me from my work they always ask, “ you make the matchbooks,
right?”

6. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?

“I’m really excited about my next show. It’s going to be a collaborative effort with
Sarahjess Hurt of a @apaper_knife_studio this October at Heist Art Gallery in Red
Lodge, MT. Sarahjess is a talented jeweler. She makes the tiny wearable receptacles
and I fill them with my found objects or tiny handmade paper flowers. It’s been fun
working with another artist and discovering the ways we’re inspiring each other. I can’t
wait to see the show come together!”

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