May 2019's Post-it note art from Instagram

Over on our Instagram page, we’re posting a weekly installation from Clare Johnson’s Post-it Note Project, a long running daily project. Here’s her wrap-up and statement from May's posts.

May's Theme: Early Days / Impracticalities

My guest post-it chooser for May was my littlest sister, the only family member not yet pressed into service thus far. I appreciated her decisive style, so unlike my own. I feel it is possible she should be in charge of many things. She identified a gap in what I’ve published so far—a gap I’d been eyeing, too cowardly to fill myself. In the very early days of making a post-it drawing every night, back in 2005 / 2006, I didn’t quite know what I was doing yet, how far I’d go. My intended ritual was initially sporadic; many nights went undocumented. I also dabbled in the impossible, using impractically ephemeral materials like faint pencil, privately writing captions or dates on the back where no one could see. My (now ex) wife also poses a lurking risk in all the early years—exposing that familiar closeness feels so unseemly now, little relics like time bombs, our failed openness too naked to look at. But my sister is bold and doesn’t care if I am naked, so she waded into the very first batch, choosing two with secretive, back-side writing. I was still in grad school, where practicalities were tacitly treated as a bit shameful, small-time. When you’re showing at the Tate Modern, for example, those details are taken care of, practicalities just someone else’s job. An ideal artist has no limits. But museums have not come calling for us, so here I am, telling you what I wrote on the back. In retrospect, it appears broken heating was a real feature of life in England. I don’t get Sunday night anxiety anymore, it’s one of the loveliest things about being on my own, work schedule splattered at odd private times across every day of every week, no such thing as Sundays. In early post-its I kept repeating the same kinds of treehouses I made obsessively as a kid, suddenly figured out why I love drawing so much. I guess it is about being impractical—drawing lets me make something real that can’t really be otherwise. Carefully build my own safe world, logic is only darkly laughable, and the whole thing fits in the palm of my hand. It’s soothing in the face of impossible things, with a secret basement swimming pool to boot. Speaking of childhood loves and my little sister, the hefty compendium of every single George and Martha story she gave me is a PRIZED POSSESSION. The TV lesbians were on an otherwise unremarkable drama about finding missing persons. I felt a shocked elation as the missing lesbian, unlike most missing characters on the show, actually escaped death—the usual fate of our dramatized queer brethren. But can we go back to Stockard Channing for a minute? This month I harbored fantasies of brevity, but let us instead swoon languorously over Stockard Channing. In Grease she’s admittedly irksome — I’m the kid who always knew peer pressure was the dumbest thing, just UNFATHOMABLY dumb, cigarettes and drinking and boys, TRIPLE UGH — but when she sings “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” my whole heart yearns to whisk her away to an alternate movie where we outrun the straight world without breaking a sweat, snarky supportive shorthaired lesbians together living in some urban dyke utopia where accidental pregnancies are as unrealistic as ghost stories and boys are just weird buddies to joke around with. The truth is, I like the writing on the back, even if I can’t afford to be impractical anymore.