Baseball cards were an important part of my pre-adolescence. The memories that linger with the boxes and binders full of cards are good ones. At the time the cards weren’t necessarily about a love for the game or the players, but more about how much each one was “worth.” There was a monthly magazine that had lists of every card produced from every major brand since the beginning. It would tell the value of a card and if it had gone up or down.
I spent a huge portion of my paper route earnings on collecting thousands of baseball cards. I don’t regret it, but there is a bit of a shadow that hangs over my collection. None of the cards are valued anywhere near what they were nearly twenty-five years ago. What we were all told was a sound investment was a bust. But I didn’t stop collecting cards because they would end up being worth nothing. I stopped collecting cards because the companies began making special editions with high-gloss surfaces and gold leafed logos and the cost of a pack became too much. Even as a pre-teen I recognized something was wrong. It seemed like Topps, Score, Fleer and all the others were getting greedy and didn’t care the kid on the bike that couldn’t buy a pack any more. I still have those cards. The emotional and literal investment has kept me from getting rid of them. I have touched and looked at every single one of them hundreds of times. Over the past three years I have thought about ways to address my childhood obsession through art. This will be my first attempt.
This project is an effort to explore the following thoughts. This list is completely tangible and will be added to and possibly subtracted from as the project progresses.
1. What is the relationship that we have with objects we collect and can that relationship change over time?
2. Why is it so important that objects be “mint” condition?
3. If I love an object so much that it loses its “mint” status, is that object less valuable to me as the owner?
4. Who controls the worth of an object and why should they be able to?
5. Is collecting objects worthwhile?
6. Are my art works just objects to be collected? Isn’t there a certain amount of irony in this?
7. If no one knew about my collected objects other than myself, would I still collect them?
8. How do I come to terms with all of the money I spent as a young kid collecting cards?
9. Can I enjoy objects that other people have collected just as much as if I were the owner of the object I was trying to enjoy?
10. Does an object that I have coveted for some time become less important or special once I have gained ownership of it?
11. Can an object be changed by the collector in a way that makes it more valuable to the collector and less valuable to everyone else?
12. Can I change the collected object in a way that it becomes more valuable to myself and to everyone else?
This project will continue until I feel like it is done. I will add works of art as they are completed.
*Term used to describe the condition of a card or other collectable that is in perfect or near perfect condition