Last night, I attended and participated in Chicago’s newest literary events called “That Belongs in a Museum! A Show and Tell Storytelling Event” moderated/curated by friends of mine, Sarah Crawford, Susan Golland, and Serena Washington. It was wonderful. The basic premise of the event is that museums have objects that they use to tell a story. We too have objects, some unique and some mundane, with our own histories and meanings. The idea was to bring an object and come on stage to talk about it for 30 seconds to 5 minutes. People wrote down their names, the title of the object, and put it into a red fez. One of the moderators would choose a name from the fez and that would determine the order. It worked out really well.
I was a bit late coming from tightwire class but what I caught was amazing. There was a gentleman who brought in a Buddha head that he ended up with from Afghanistan or Pakistan. He met the people who had grave robbed it. It is an example of Gandharan art, a mixture of Buddhist, Greek, Syrian and other cultures. The gentleman talked about how he cannot return the item since the ruling faction of the area is Islamist and art depicting people is considered graven. He talked about how pieces just like this are offered on Ebay or from antique stores on Clark.
I was up next. I presented the story of this clip on brown and gold bow-tie. It was my grandfather’s bow-tie that I have been carrying in my purse since he passed away. Now the weird thing is that I didn’t really associate my grandfather with bow-ties until after his death. I was more interested in getting him tell us his stories. He traveled the world when it wasn’t easy nor fashionable to travel. He worked in Afghanistan, India, Malaysia in programs like Doctors without Borders. He was one of the first groups of American tourists to go to China in the 1970s through Pan Am (the same group that nearly got kicked out of the country due to someone’s insensitive remakrs about Mao). In his spare time, he studied Gandharan and other Indian art and culture.
My grandfather lived a spectacular life and I hope to do half the things he did. When he passed away and we were going through the drawers of the house, we found drawers filled with hundreds of bow-ties. The bow-tie has been in my bag for awhile and I don’t know when or even if I’ll stop carrying it around. When I finished, the bow tie and its tag were photographed. All the objects will be featured on the website.
One person presented his dancing shoes, another his leather jacket and CD player, while Susan Golland, one of the moderators, told a story about how a beaver tooth ended up resulting in buffalo teeth and ended in buffalo chili.
After the show, I had several people come up to me, telling me stories about their late grandparents, which I thought was wonderful. One lady even showed me a small photo album of her grandmother who was a dancer and model in the 1920s. I was so incredibly touched. I had a wonderful conversation about the history of portable music. How we all remember our first walkman, then CD and then venturing into the world of MP3 Players. I love how this event celebrated the stories of people’s lives through these objects. Something as insignificant as a bow-tie or a beaver tooth can become incredibly pathways into fascinating stories and memories.
It was a wonderful event and I hope that it becomes a monthly event. The next one is planned for April 2nd. I hope you all can make it.