As I write this account, in my peripheral vision, just below my screen and fairly close to my keyboard, is a rock. My Shit rock. The rock is dark gray and as long as, but a bit fatter than, my thumb. Painted on it’s polished surface in a whimsical script is the word shit, framed by two small daisies. It used to be my mom’s. I believe, but I can’t quite remember whether or not it’s true, that she kept it on her desk in her studio. When she died, this rock was one of a handful of her objects that I chose to take.
This rock delights and fascinates me, provoking my curiosity and conjuring up images of my mom and how I remember her. Why did my mom have this rock? How did she get it? Did she buy it as a souvenir on one of our rare vacations? Was it a present from a past student? A gag gift? What did she think about when she looked at it? Did she laugh?
My mom was an artist, an identity she didn’t really claim until she went back to school in her mid 50s and earned a BFA in fiber arts. Her studio spaces—she had many different ones because she and my dad moved a lot in the last decade of her life—were always filled with quotes from artists, inspirational words, framed cross-stitchings like, “of all things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most,” images torn out of magazines and various art supplies. Amidst all of these items was the Shit rock.
Was this rock somehow inspiring to my mom? Did it provide her with an outlet for the frustration she experienced as an artist who was constantly doing battle with the Censor, that voice inside her that repeatedly told her she wasn’t good enough? Was it a way for her to represent her feisty and playful spirit? To poke fun at her own penchant for “pretty” knick-knacks?
I’m not sure why she had this rock. And, I don’t think I want to know. Instead I like looking at it and wondering. It gives me a chance to keep thinking about her.