Studio Ghosts

by Shannon Russell

People roam through my imagination, as real as the upstairs neighbors, with their own opinions and desires. They’re loud and needy, insisting that I turn their lives into tales.

I am more real than they are.

How do I know? I have a checkbook. If they want cowboy boots or a black velvet shirt and black jeans, they must ask me for it. Inside their own little worlds, they can have anything, but they are attracted to the material possessions that they can have only through me, the writer.

How many times have I sat back to watch the world through someone else’s eyes? Is it worth counting the books and music I’ve collected for tastes not my own? How often have I found myself with a drink in my hand that I didn’t like? This one drinks bourbon in soda; that one drinks beer.

For years, I hunted for gold velvet curtains to satisfy one of them. Picture those great ceiling to floor curtains like they used to have in theatres. Easy, you’d think? But no, gold is not fashionable. I found taupe and tan and a buttery white. I found gold pillows and upholstery. I found gold damask and heavy satin, charmeuse and Thai silk, but not velvet. Why couldn’t he have wanted a fountain pen? Those are cheaper, and less rare.

As long as my checkbook requires my signature, they have to put up with me. For them to live in stories, they need my imagination and the work of my hands.

But I couldn’t live without them either.

They are my precious children.

We need each other.

Shannon is one of six In Print members to have her work featured at the Allegory Project, an art space and exhibition co-sponsored by the Art Matters Artist Coop and the Rockford Area Arts Council. The Allegory Project plans to have a theme that is explored in various art forms: painting and sculpture, photography, repurposed objects, and the spoken and written word.

Abbie’s piece and the others have been framed at the gallery and are available for viewing from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The show space is on the northwest corner of Madison and Prairie Streets in Rockford.