Portfolio: The Repair Work of Claudia Tennyson

Roadside Elixir Installation, Headlands Center for the Arts 2005

Roadside Elixir
Installation, Headlands Center for the Arts
2005

Portfolio: The Repair Work of Claudia Tennyson

I AM a chronic closet cleaner, ritualistically purging objects from my life that no longer serve a supposed functional purpose, despite their stored memories. I’ve actually teared up over throwing away or donating unused stuffed animals, overcome as I am with feelings of guilt and abandonment—the sense that I am not only removing an object from my life, but attempting to remove my past.

In this sense, I like to imagine Claudia Tennyson as not simply a repairer of objects, but perhaps also a mender of broken and abandoned memories. In her Repair Series, for which Tennyson has asked people to drop off items they feel are in need of fixing, she transforms broken objects, not necessarily restoring them to their original state, or even keeping them recognizable. In doing so, she redefines “repair” and, as she explains, “what it means to hang on to something thought of as useless and give it another life.” As a result, “these objects then become metaphors for what we think is necessary to give up on, whether it is a broken cup or a difficult relationship.”

Although it could be argued that the real art in Tennyson’s work is found in her interactions with the public—her process of receiving, mending, fixing, rearranging, and eventually giving back—the images that remain of her repaired objects are enough to make me reconsider what I choose to throw away, whether it be a deserted toy or a regrettable memory. Perhaps everything has the potential to be mended. —Tara Goe

Blue Plate repaired with ribbon and rubber bands 2005
Blue Plate
repaired with ribbon and rubber bands
2005

Plastic Cup repaired with staples 2005
Plastic Cup
repaired with staples
2005

Toaster repaired with stitched, quilted cosy 2005
Toaster
repaired with stitched, quilted cosy
2005

Broken Crayon repaired with stitching and fabric 2005
Broken Crayon
repaired with stitching and fabric
2005

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3 Responses to Portfolio: The Repair Work of Claudia Tennyson

  1. Brian says:

    claudia
    We worked together at the de young museum. How are you? It’s brian wolfe. brianw124@yahoo.com
    I’d love to hear from you . Love what you are doing!
    Cheers

    • Oaktowner says:

      Hi Brian, I removed your phone number for your own protection. We don’t know Claudia Tennyson personally, but hopefully she will see this comment and reach out to you. Good luck!

  2. LR says:

    Thank you for cataloging this important work–it would be a shame to loose Claudia’s contributions.

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