On Making Artifacts

Often, I think about the outcomes of memory keeping—the things we make—as artifacts. Not because I'm trying be clever about it, but because of my love of archaeology and the human story. Artifact just seems to fit as a term for the items we create. The term seems to instill the proper reverence for the thing made rather than the creator and something about that appeals to me.

I'm sure it has a lot to do with of my love of archaeology. For a short while in the 90s, I was an archaeological technician. Likewise, anthropology (specifically, archaeology) was one of my major fields of study in college (I have a Humanities degree). Consequently, I see artifacts as these amazing lenses into what it means to be human, connected to each other, and alive. I see the stories made of our photos and words kept safe within photo books albums as a pathway to understanding our ancestors.

Speaking of ancestors, I am so grateful that mine valued photos so much. I'm thankful that even though photos were expensive, my grandparents and great-grandparents paid for more than the usual family portraits of the day. They paid to record important relationships and bits of everyday life. Their choices show how they felt about their family and the little things in life—cars, card games, seasonal events, favorite pets. Their collection hints at the humor and whimsy that seem to matter to (and typify) the family even today.

I just hope that what I create—the artifacts made by me—will share what mattered to us enough to matter to someone else in the future.

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