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Everything Has A Reason—Vera's Self Portrait

Everything Has A Reason—Vera's Self Portrait

My self portrait project is actually in three pieces. The first is a wall hanging and the second is rabbit skin that the third piece, a book, rests on. Ever since first grade, when we got to go to the top floor to see eighth grade projects, I’ve wanted to make a book. I made the wall hanging because, as I will explain shortly, animal skulls and bones mean a lot to me, and I have wanted to make something with one since about second or third grade.

The first aspect of my project is the wall hanging. Inside a coppery, metallic-painted frame is a piece of wood painted black. Mounted on the wood is a raccoon skull with a small plastic flower by its mouth. I have always been fascinated by bones and such. Ever since I was about six, when I started visiting my grandparents in Virginia, my grandpa and I would always go for a trek in the woods with our whacking sticks, which we used for whacking branches and such out of the pathway. We’d go to “our” rock and look for bones, feathers, and antlers. Grandpa would try to quiz me on which animal had been there, based on the poop (not that I ever got it right). I continued to enjoy learning about animals and bugs. I bought the skull online from a website called the Bone Room with my Dad. I would like to point out that if we had not needed to go into self-isolation due to COVID-19, my project would not have been as special because I would have not needed to get creative about the frame. I had intended to go to Michael’s to buy a plaque, but when I wasn’t able to go outside, my Dad found an old frame holding a mirror. My Dad remembered that I had actually gotten the mirror as a “treat” at Goodwill with my Mom and cousin when I was four. I removed the mirror and painted the frame, using paint left over from when my parents painted their bedroom.

The second piece of my project is a rabbit skin and fur that the book rests on. I’ve had it since I was so young that and I don’t remember getting it, but my Dad said it came from Ikea. I just liked it so much that they bought it for me. I loved it and played with it almost every day. I did get a few questions from my friends about why I had a rabbit skin in my toy box. I don’t know why I loved it, and still do, as much as I do but I was not the only one; my old dog Scout loved it as well.

The third and final part of my project is my book filled with authors, poets, bands, and musicians. I have written about their lives, why they inspire me, or a combination of both. I have always loved to hear stories. I don’t remember all the bedtime stories my Mom told me but I do remember a version of Hansel and Gretel, and how with all of the stories I would imagine them taking place in places that I had been; and with Hansel and Gretel it took place at the edge of Elioak’s Farm or more inside the park by the Crooked Mans’ house. I also always wanted to hear about pirates and came up with my own pirate stories (if you couldn’t tell, for a very long time I was obsessed with pirates and that was what I wanted to be when I grew up). I learned to read rather late. My parents thought I could read, because I just memorized all the picture books in the house, but one day, when my Dad was driving the two of us home, I was suddenly able to read every road sign. It just clicked. For my book I chose authors who inspired me. However, the impact of the book is always more than the author to me. I have a fairly wide range of genres that I enjoy including, fantasy, comics, dark/gory, mystery, and many others.

The bands and musicians that I included in the book are important to me as well. I have always had stories running through my head and I always liked songs that I could put in them. That is part of why I love so many kinds of music, such as ones that could almost be from another time in history especially the band Rasputina. Most of my music was introduced to me by my parents, and I listened to it even when I didn’t understand it. I loved the band and album Evelyn Evelyn which is based on a set of books telling a true story about a pair of Siamese twins, just with the names changed. “Evelyn Evelyn” is a very sad and melancholy story. However, I was just listening to certain songs and not the dialog, so I would sing right along with it, clucking along with “Chicken Man.” Clearly my love of stories blends into music. I also vividly remember that we would listen to a band called the Toy Dolls, which is an extremely goofy British punk rock band that would sometimes use kazoos. I would always have a kazoo in the car to play along with them.

Decorations are on all pages of the book, and there are several pages that are purely decorations. Some decorations have written explanations, and some do not. There are many Halloween items and wooden cutouts that have a very vintage look. I also used transfer paper to add images that also have a very historical feel onto the pages, and many of them are actually quite old. There are old advertisements ranging all the way from an old prescription drug, to a show to see the famous magician Keller. There is also a mirror on the inside. When I see all of this about me then, I will also see some of myself now, on the cover, and in the future. No decoration is there just to fill up space. Everything has a reason. I hope to continue listening to these wonderful artists and reading these authors’ and poets’ work, and hopefully add some more to my favorites in the future, including my time at Western Tech magnet program in Baltimore county.