I've always treated mixtapes as a form of art. Until now, I have only crafted mixes for specific individuals. Recently, I decided to take a chance and create a mixtape for someone I had never met and could not possibly conjure up: a mixtape for a stranger.
I put together a mix of songs that encapsulated some things I was feeling throughout January 2022. Most often I make mixtapes for people I know well, curating each playlist and cover towards each person's particular music tastes and interests. In the past I have made mixes for people I didn't know super well, experimenting with the guessing of what a person might like based on a few songs they enjoy.
But this mix was new to me, making a mix for a complete stranger. I challenged myself to create something that was deeply personal and allow for someone else to easily access that vulnerability, picking it up on a whim and by chance; being in the right place at the right time, and react to that vulnerability/interpret it in their own way.
I left this mixtape at Full Stop Station in Louisville, Kentucky.
The mix included a couple bonus inserts, one being a study for a larger, in-progress piece. The study was done in ink and white charcoal on vintage newsprint that was given to me by Cathy Currier. The newsprint was her late father's, Clifford Currier, who had collected an excess of various papers and stationary throughout his life. It was a deliberate choice to use this particular newsprint as the first draft of this piece, as finding Currier's Music World has been an incredibly impactful experience not only because of what I've learned about instrument repair, but more because of what I've learned through meeting and building a relationship with Cathy, who is a teacher at heart-- of instrument repair, but of life advice and lived experience as well. In a place where I initially felt incredibly isolated, I found a place where I felt incredibly welcomed and at home. It was important to me to pay homage to a place I found family in while also admitting my own continuing struggle, not only to pay respects and give thanks to being so welcomed by the Curriers, but also to acknowledge the complexities of emotions and situations-- especially the heavy-feeling ones.
A second insert details lyrics of a featured song on the mix, Grow Into A Ghost by Swearin', giving a brief break between a heavier feeling to shed a little light in the mix; the structure lending itself to the ups and downs and lulls of fluid feelings.
This insert is removed to reveal a small handwritten note, scratched also on an old library card belonging to Clifford Currier.
I chose to limit the color palette and media to black ink and white ink/charcoal to challenge myself to conjure up emotion while using limited resources. It is sort of how I feel sometimes when I'm not feeling so great-- there's always so much to say, but I'm not always the best at saying it, so I often feel like something is left out or communicated improperly, but I try my best to communicate or even just think/process with the resources that are available to me.
This limitation also offers itself to the concept of things being "black and white"-- with emotions especially, they rarely are cut out with concise definition, even if they might seem that way at first glance.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the accessibility of art. As an artist, one of the best things you can do for yourself is look at as much art as possible. This is absolutely beneficial for artists specifically, but I think it applies to all people, artist-or-creative-identity aside. I wanted to offer something meaningful to me, to someone else for free, letting some kind of cosmic pull determine whose hands the mix might fall into. Maybe they are currently experiencing a "January 2022" of their own.
You can listen to the full playlist here.
Cathy Currier at Currier's Music World and Bob (Marley) the cat, who lives at the store.