Self Portrait Installation (my childhood room)

Shori Sims (2020)

Self Portrait Installation (my childhood room) is a sculptural installation developed by School of Art undergraduate, Shori Sims. The work is constructed from cardboard, foam, and hand-shaped papier-mâché, and depicts a book, bedside table, styling gel, dollar bill, bottle of lotion, and moisturizer. The project was developed with the partial support of Microgrant #2020-045 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier, and was presented at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. More images are available here.

Sims writes: These sculptures are, for me, more than a simple set of object replicas. They are sculptures that hold for me significance as representations of both personal and collective object memory: more specifically, the personal and collective object memory of Black women. The bedside table recreated in the piece is one that I’ve owned and has set in my bedroom for my entire life: from early childhood until now. It is the first object that comes to mind as I seek to represent home. I worked very hard for this reason to accurately represent all of the details that I could recall: including the molding and roped handles on the drawers.The objects on top are ones that I consider representative of my childhood, and experience as a black woman as well: a 6-ounce jar of B&B SuperGro hair moisturizer, a can of ORS olive oil sheen spray, an old copy of James Baldwin’s Just Above my Head passed from my mother to me, a bottle of Nivea lotion, and a crumpled dollar bill. All of these objects are represented without text or brand names.

A large part of this work was in my reproduction of highly specific objects as they appeared to me in my memory. When I imagine any object, I never see the textual elements of their packaging in my mind—but I do know their color and their shape. This is something that I wanted to represent in this work: so that interacting with them would touch something deep in the viewer’s memory. This way of recognizing objects is something that has been, throughout the life of this work, universal for the initiated. I have been extremely delighted by the ways Black consumers of this work have interacted with it: the way that their eyes light up with recognition when looking at the objects displayed.