What do you do if you have a whole day to explore Chicago? The Sears Tower? See a Broadway show in the Theater District? Eat a real Chicago pizza? Visit a real Chicago Firehouse? Well, recently my sister and I managed to do all those things, but we also managed to see a side of Chicago that was a bit off the beaten path.
I have always owned homes built in the teens and twenties, so looking for old fixtures and knobs is a way of life for me and my never-ending restoration projects. When Karen suggested we try to find an architectural salvage, I was 100% on board. Salvage in a city known for its architecture like Chicago is like gold to those of us who love and live in Arts & Crafts era bungalows. We found a place that was accessible from the L on the Brown Line – Architectural Artifacts.
AA is a bit more like a museum than a salvage store, it actually hosts events like weddings on the main floor. Inside you might find a gargoyle next to a neon sign, wonders at every turn. Most of it was out of my price range, but it was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
Klediment is a word my mother taught me. She told me it was a word that she heard her grandparents and aunts and uncles use in the hills of Appalacia where she grew up. A Klediment is a word that describes an object with great value – but not monetary value. It has the value of memory and sentiment attached to it. I first understood the word when she related the value of this sewing machine to me. It was her mother’s and it may possibly be the only personal item she had of her mom’s. She learned to sew on it. She tried to teach me to sew on it too. It was more valuable to her than money – it’s meaning was priceless.
As a photographer it occurred to me that I could photograph some of these personal things and try to create a portrait of someone without actually showing their image – could you get a sense of who they are just from the things that were precious to them? Can the photos tell the story better than words?
Sometimes I find everyday objects like this evoke more in me that a photo of someone I love. I pick up my grandfather’s keys and touch the places where his hands have worn the metal bare and almost sense him there with me.