It's amazing what a little wood, glass, and cardboard can do. These
materials aren't exactly the ideal candidates for say, using during
surgery to repair the human body, but then again, in one sense they are.
I'm talking about framing, where we take our dreams and our hopes and we
build a special home for them called a frame.
Frames house and protect the most important images in our lives.
This is not always obvious at first glance. The photographs we frame
are sometimes just the ones we have on hand and our posters or paintings
are often pictures that we simply like. However, we only have so
many blank walls and a limited number of counter surfaces upon which to
display pictures. We have a finite capacity for storing memories or
feelings, and so the ones we choose to surround ourselves with tend to be
or become the most important. Of the thousand photos new parents
take of their children, only so many can fit on the refrigerator at one
time. We must pick and choose, and be ruthless about it.
The refrigerator is a special place for images in that with a few dog or
cat magnets we can rearrange the entire composition whenever we feel like
a change. We tend to look at the front of our refrigerators more
often than any other surface in the house, if we exclude mirrors and
television/computer screens. Note that the wallpaper on your
computer isn't as versatile as the refrigerator in that it only displays
one image (which child's picture do you choose?) and pimples it with lots
of uninteresting icons.
Images on the refrigerator, however, have to compete for that metallic
white surface with less important things like grocery lists and phone
messages. The demand for this special space is so strong that even
ultra-important items like the drawings of a three-year old need to pass
on to make room for the latest set of ultra-important images or the new
garbage pickup schedule. Then those once-treasured images of
yesterday find their way to a trashcan or a dark drawer that is only
opened to bury more treasure.
Rarest of all is the image that finds a more permanent place in the home.
For such an occasion we may decide to spend a few hundred dollars on wood,
glass (stay away from plexi or plastic; they aren't as classy as glass),
and cardboard (acid-free, of course) to highlight the picture. After
all, a poster thumbtacked to the wall looks, well, tacky, in comparison to
a professionally framed work of art. Funny that, how a frame turns a
poster into a work of art. Try the experiment. Take a bad
drawing and put it in a frame. You'll be amazed at how much more you
We define ourselves by the actions we take, the words we speak, and the
images with which we surround ourselves. It's not just a little
wood, glass, and cardboard, but the healthy dose of TLC and respect that's
mixed in. It's the memory of a distant friend we place in a special
place so that we can rediscover and hold it several times a week.
It's the certified proof that we have accomplished hard goals such as
earning that degree, waiting to remind us that we can do anything we set
our mind to when we begin to lose faith in ourselves. It's the love
we shower on ourselves by surrounding ourselves with our favorite colors,
places, and people.
Framing is magical. It transubstantiates the ordinary into the
extraordinary. My friend Mike recently showed his "work"
in a gallery. I wandered through the hall stunned at how what had
been almost kid's stuff on his kitchen table was art when it hung from a
wall. If you don't believe me, show a friend a picture you're
considering buying and you'll get an opinion. Show that same friend
a picture in a frame and you'll get praise for your good taste.
Who says money can't work miracles?