It's Nerf or Nothin'
World on Fire
Objects of Nostalgia
As a 90s kid, I was obsessed with Hot Wheels and fantastical, adventure-filled, out-of-this-world stories; like any child, I barely saw time pass as I played with toys and listened to stories—living in the moment and enjoying life.
Thirty years later, many of the toys I grew up with are now obsolete in our culture, though they still hold a special place in my heart. From VHSes, to action figures, to vintage Beanie Babies that were supposed to make me a millionaire, the toys and media that brought me joy as a child sit forgotten on a shelf in thrift stores; an ironic representation of our own slow fade into forgetting how to have simple fun like we did when we were kids. As we grow into adulthood, stress replaces playtime and carefree attitudes as pressures from work, relationships, and responsibilities weigh us down.
One day while thrifting at Goodwill, I came across a book titled Magic Land of Toys by Alberto Manguel. While I don’t often browse the bookshelves there, this book jumped out to me. As I opened it, I discovered its pages were filled with amazing full-spread photographs of imaginary worlds made with toy-filled dioramas, all captured in dramatic light. Even in the absence of text, these images told fantastical stories.
Inspiration struck as I paged through Manguel’s book. I have long worked in multiple mediums and began to think about how I might bring them together; I wanted to explore a way of taking my paintings into three dimensions. By combining my style of painting—layering paint to create visible depth—with a dramatic style of photography on forgotten toys, this series was born.
OBJECTS OF NOSTALGIA gives the toys of the past a new look and new life; it celebrates the simple, plain fun we had as kids and evokes those feelings again as adults. This series has enabled me—and I hope you, too—to return to the fantasy and imagination of childhood playtime.