This past weekend I received seven emails from my father, each titled either “Art” or “Art?” and each containing an attached photo of a framed piece of art (or art?) from my childhood. “If you want them, they’re yours,” he told me over the phone. “If not, they’re going to the auction house.”
The auction house? Who would want these, I thought. Who would pay money for the painting of a steam ship that lived for years in the upstairs hallway or the photograph of fish drying on a rack that hung beside it? This art had meaning to me, of course—each piece evokes a different story and memory from my childhood—but the idea that a stranger would want these somehow baffled me. And then I looked around my apartment and realized that the objects I live most closely with and have come to feel so fond of, the things that I have collected over the years now lining my shelves all started out as other people’s stuff.