by Ellen in , , ,

So I have this project due on Monday, and it is about "extending the frame." Exactly. What does that even mean? Well, I this is interesting because I think a lot about frames. There's this really great band I like called "The Frames," I wear frames on my face, I have a website devoted to things that are inside frames. But this project is calling me to step outside of the frame I've gotten so used to. It hasn't been very fun. I like my frames--I like the box that surrounds my little world of taking pictures. It's warm and cozy in here, and I enjoy showing my friends and family what to put in the frame. Like what's in a frame is verrry important, and anything outside of it shouldn't matter. Sounds preeetttyyyy arrogant, if you ask me. But hey, it's kind of clever.

First, I'll show you the photos. I'm not sure how I'm going to arrange them on the wall yet. If you have any ideas for that, pipe up.

Here is how I approached it: First I thought about the frame itself. It's sort of this closed off structure, keeping something in or keeping something out. No chance for osmosis. Then I thought about what it is keeping out, and what exists in that marginal space. Then I thought not about what is in the margins, but who is in the margins. Marginalized is too extreme a word. That's Jesus' business. Mine too, to an extent. Whatever, I'm not ready for it. Anyway, I imagined what I normally will ignore outside my frame of reference. Whether it's my glasses keeping out the extra stuff, or just where I would rather avert my eyes, there are things that I choose not to observe. It has something to do with power, and not wanting to deal with the ugly that is unworthy of my attention. The irony is that the "ugly" side of life is the MOST worthy of my attention. So, for the past few weeks, I have been talking to the people I usually just walk by without even a first glance. Not only the people who shake their cups as I walk past, but also the people who do mundane tasks that are essential to a functioning society, but no one stops to think, "I wonder who put these little plastic thingies on the ends of my shoelaces?" You see what I mean. For the record, not all of these people are homeless. That's not what this is about. For me, it is about connecting with people I wouldn't associate with or even think about on a regular basis. It is about stepping out of my comfort zone to use my gifts to get to know someone, to help them feel significant. BEFORE I even get my camera out. Some of these people I talked to for a really long time, some I couldn't talk to because they preferred to just keep doing what they were doing, but were happy for me to take their picture.

Since I might not get to do this for my class, I'd like to say something about each of these people.
1. The One Man Banjo. He is REALLY good at playing the banjo and flirted with me while I took his photo.
2. Harold "works" on 6th street, and says he has a jewelry store called "Harold's Jewelry." Probably not, but he told me that he's been trying out this new finish for shoes, that makes them sparkle like jewelry. Like jewelry for your shoes.
3.Denny MacFarlane. He is the first person I stopped to talk with. He usually sits in this one spot outside Urban Outfitters that is always shady no matter what time of day it is, but on the day I met him, this miserable drunk guy was hogging his space. He recited some poetry by William Blake for me, and we laughed about him looking like Santa Claus, and how hilarious it would be if he went around at Christmas asking parents to let their kids tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Suuuper nice guy.
4.These guys are always on Market St. handing out their CDs that require a donation. They are always being cheesy and silly. I don't know what their real names are, but I got a CD and sent one to my friend Alex because he has a bigger place in his heart for Bay Area Rap than I do.
5. Michael was just chillin' on the sidewalk, looking like he was waiting for something, but maybe not. He had this great hat on, and was quite the character, but had some mental retardation. We talked for a long time about all of his necklaces and how many hats he has.
6. Kathy said that she stays in shelters most of the time, and that SF shelters are pretty good. A little crowded, though. Some guy also handed her this giant bag of donuts while I was talking to her and she gave me a chocolate one while we chatted.
7.This is Kurt, who thought I was silly because I had never seen the inside of an escalator and wanted to climb down in there with him. But he said it was too dangerous and he couldn't let me. But he is the guy that fixes all the Bart escalators in the city. He used to fix elevators, too. I asked him what the worst thing he ever found down there was. He said a dead body. I wasn't expecting that one.
8. Dom sits in the middle of the road at the Wharf and plays these little bongos, and it is LOUD, you'd be surprised. He is super nice and his tip jar has a sticker on it that says, "Are we having fun yet?"
9. This guy was really intent on his work, and smiled at me, but didn't tell me his name. I liked his pink shirt.
10. I don't know this man's name either, but it won't be hard to find out because his music is the soundtrack to Market St. as lame as that sounds. You can't walk on the street without hearing him. He has great teeth.
11. This is Jay. He saw me talking to Harold and asked me why I took his picture. I told him, and then he started posing. I took his picture, too. He was GREAT. He is a delivery truck driver for toy stores. His son also just graduated from Chico State and just got a job in a pit crew for NASCAR. He was pretty proud.
12. This man, Kenzie, was my favorite. I saw him in his wheelchair with a painting in front of him, and said hello. He told me that he lost the use of his hands, so he puts the paintbrush in his mouth and paints. It is amazing what he does. We talked for a long time about art. He also has this guy who helps him, Tyrone. They were pretty neat dudes. I took a lot of pictures of him, but I loved this one the best.

I am really excited about this project now. It's an ongoing one, that I'll probably work on my whole life. I'll have to find more women to talk to. Did you notice that? That there was only one woman that I saw? Most of them are men. I'll have to think more about that.