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mermaids past their prime and other musings

‘Mermaids Past Their Prime’ is one of Tim Tate’s most recent video reliquary sculptures.

Mermaids Past Their Prime
blown and cast glass, found objects, electronics, video
21 x 7 x 7

picture: Pete Duvall

Part of an 8 piece series titled “21st Century Sideshows”, the reliquary boasts a glass mermaid finial, a cast glass circus tent, the requisite crowd peeking inside the curtain to see the show, a relaxed mermaid leaning on oyster shells and a video of a mermaid past her prime smoking a cigarette and looking bored with life.

The 21st Century Sideshows series in progress

Mermaids Past Their Prime, detail (yes, that’s daMuse!)

I’m the aging mermaid in the video loop that plays continuously as viewers peer through the curtains of the circus tent. Tim’s editing genius turned my face blue, my lips green and my eyeshadow pink.  Perfect for a mermaid, don’t you think?

The video above is daMuse before Tim’s color shift.
Come by WGS to see the full effect of the final cut!

why did i do it?

Aside from the obvious reason – documenting the life of working artists today – another reason I started the apprenticeship project was that I knew it would force me to do things outside of my comfort zone (CZ). I would have to let myself be be bad at something; let myself be an uninformed beginner in front of everyone (a particularly hard one for me); let go of my perfectionist ways; live without knowing what’s next. And that’s the short, publishable list – the full list is much longer!

When Tim asked me to be the aging mermaid I knew I would have to quickly learn how to NOT take myself so seriously. My first inclination was to say no – but I chose to challenge myself instead. And this challenge, one of many here at my DC internship, meant I had to get over myself FAST.

Posting unflattering pictures of myself made up as the aging mermaid, walking into the glass studio in the garish makeup in front of four men, allowing myself to be filmed looking really awful (and smoking a cigarette – ick!), standing still and not getting embarrassed while Tim told a well-known gallerist, collectors, students and other WGS visitors that the aging mermaid in the video was me – all of that was me stepping outside of my CZ.

Everyone should step outside of their CZ at least once a week.

It grows you.

In addition – this reliquary is sure to strike a chord with women of a certain age. I am that woman of a certain age, and I believe that the best is yet to come, so I wanted to get in her skin for a moment to remind myself of who I DON’T want to be. She’s bored and jaded – seen it all, done it all.

Me? Soon to be 52, in many ways I’m just getting started. Shedding fears like fish scales, tearing off old beliefs like tight shoes (and wondering how I ever walked in those too-tight shoes), letting the possibilities wash over me like a long-awaited cleansing rain.  I am the opposite of a mermaid past her prime regardless of my chronological age. I don’t intend to EVER be past my prime, even when I am well into my 80’s.  Bored? Nope. Jaded? Never. There is still so much life to live!

Thanks Tim, for giving me one of the many opportunities here in DC to jump outside of my CZ. I had a blast and this series of sculptures is simply GRAND. Check out the whole series below.

Tim Tate’s 21st Century Sideshows

What have you done recently to step outside of your comfort zone? Please leave a comment and share it with us.

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10 Responses to mermaids past their prime and other musings

  1. Jess just sent all of this link and I am blown away with how timely this is for me. You’ve inspired me today in a way I cannnot find the words to explain. I am on my way right now to doing something out of my comfort zone. I will let you know what it is when i do it! Kudos to you on this accomplishment. xo

  2. This post really struck a cord with me! Love it! Yes step out side of you CZ! Absolutely! It just so happens that this year I made a commitment to look my fears in the eye and take them on. It’s scary and empowering. I agree you make a wonderful past her prime mermaid. We all need to be reminded not to take life so seriously sometimes. I think what you are doing is great – I look forward to your daily posts. Truly inspiring. Thank you so much.

  3. Thanks for posting this wonderful project and your part in it. It gives it so much more depth to have your perspective on it — rather than just a video loop of an anonymous weary mermaid.

    I think putting out my art and stories on the internet was the big leap outside my comfort zone. I use “unfinished” bits of my journal as a way of communicating now instead of squirreling things away until they’re perfect.

    And for my 50th birthday I gave up dieting and started drinking. I’m no larger or out of control a year later — but happier.

  4. I love this! I am 52 (don’t look or act my age) and my recent journey out of my CZ has been painting portraits for money. Most of my subjects have been animals all of my life. After doing a watercolor portrait of my husband saddling a horse, I was asked to do two commissioned portraits. I did very well with the first one, which gave me courage to do one of my boss’s year-old son. I am terrified, but confident that the finished work will create the illusion that I know what I am doing.

  5. Oh, Honey…you definitely need more fun and more sleep! Hahahaha And thanks for reminding us all to step out of our CZ at least once in a while. Can’t wait to see more reports about your most excellent adventure.

  6. I’m laughing laughing laughing. You totally nailed it, and it’s hilarious because you’re so NOT that way — either in looks or personality. Still laughing … Next up: Acting classes? Still laughing …

  7. I’ll be 52 this year too and say with kindness that you made a wonderful mermaid past her prime. And your reasons for doing it are great!

    What is it about turning 50 (that was the age for me) that allows one to start shedding old fears and insecurities? Somehow turning 50 opened my mind, heart and soul to a whole host of new adventures and possibilites that would have previously overwhelmed me. My 4 year old twin girls overwhelm me daily, but not much else does these days.

    Congratulations on having such a fantastic time in DC.

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