by Carlos Antonio Piñón
February 2, 2019
Imagine this: it's 2013. I'm a freshman in college, living away from home (kind of) for the first time, and it's mid-term time. I go to an art school, so for my second project in Research 1, I could do anything, anything I want so long as it pertains to the idea of a collection or archive. What do I do? A giant, gay rainbow of cars, obviously, except it was NOT easy to get to this point at all.
To be fair to myself, I didn't come from an art background. In high school, I took a mandatory art appreciation class and an elective creative writing class. Sure, my dad was in a band, but when it came time for me to pick a music class—choir—that was mandatory, too. So when it came to doing research on art practices and theory, I had no idea what I was in for. You mean, art was NOT just paint and photography? What do you mean a collection could be considered an art form?
I recall our class visiting the Roger Brown Study Collection and being blown away by just how much STUFF had been placed in such a small amount of space. Though Roger Brown collected art work, I wondered what kind of stuff we collected unintentionally. My first project for this class consisted of paper receipts, but for this second project, I was wanting a more intimate material.
That's when I remembered: when I was young, my parents used to stuff my and my brothers' stockings with toy cars. I mean, they were cheap things at the time, but we loved them. There were all sorts of things you could do: play driving, create a city, or smash two cars together to see which one was "strongest." That, of course, was nothing, until I was a little older and my cousin and I used to fling cars at each other like some kind of dangerous snowball fight, except with small, metal cars. (Yes, I did end up with a busted lip once.)
So, then as an 18 year old, I texted my mom to give me all the toy cars she could find. Now, at the time, I was one of four boys with the youngest (David) being 7. By then, David had already lost interest, preferring digital games instead. So, my mom was already in the process of getting rid of a bunch of toys anyway (good-bye Legos!) She was more than ECSTATIC to hand over the remaining cars, many of which had already been tossed.
Still, I ended up with a heavy box full of toy cars. Somehow, I circled around the same issue I had before: now that I have the cars, what do I do with them? Now, we can get into the implications of what it means to attach these childhood toys with a pin underneath, effectively making these things even more dangerous (toxic masculinity, perhaps?), and how my selection as a rainbow could talk about the innocence of LGBT boys, or maybe even how it kinda looks like the WiFi symbol(?), but mostly, I just wanted to put some cars on a wall and I wanted it to look aesthetically pleasing.
After all, at first, it was NOT aesthetically pleasing at all:
Still, I remember fondly methodically applying hot glue (also borrowed from my mom) to the bottom of each car before placing the pin. A majority of these were done alongside my college friends who were all engaged in a dance party in one of the classrooms late at night.
From this class, this is my favorite piece. My classmates had a lot of positive things to say about this one, but perhaps the most perceptive observation was the abundance of red and blue cars, which was unintentionally the most insightful thing about the project to begin with.