March 2020'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 March's posts.

March's Theme:

I am living for 3 months at an artist residency in Memphis, Tennessee. People in the arts abound here, all of whom I’ve known only a matter of weeks. This moment confuses me. Who do I ask to choose post-its? Which of these myriad artistic strangers should peruse my pages of suddenly exposed intimacies, peer into my brain’s late-night privacies, where are our boundaries in a place like this. It’s fine with you—I’m not standing next to you—I don’t see you seeing me. But all this is an illusion because that was when I sent these off for publication at the beginning of March, now I’m still in Memphis but no one is in my vicinity, this place all closed-up. Back in the time of being-here-pre-pandemic I dealt with my boundaries conundrum by asking 4 different people to each choose a single post-it. While fancier and fussier, this method also somehow seemed lower pressure. I asked the people I’d spent the most time with, not other residents—rather locals, casual colleagues who were delighting my days with random banter, sudden honesty, strange commonalities, smiling generosities, punches of laughter, the occasional 1997 made-for-TV musical. Ash at the closed-for-now cafe makes visual art and co-owns a video store / music venue across the street; something about her moody-humor-witchy-movie-nerd vibe made my mid90s-teen-queer-in-Seattle self feel like I understood where I was. Her since-high-school buddy Tori works the morning shift at the cafe and is trying to find her way back into art making, after years focused on her kids. She returned in the evening during Ash’s shift to choose post-its; Tori stating immediately that she would definitely choose the snails but also needed to see every single one anyway, Ash following along for a time till settling confidently, pleasingly characteristically, on demons. After picking carefully through all of 2019 and up to the present, Tori kept her word and stuck with the snails, I’m learning a love of snails really brings people together. Ash said, “this is perfect, I’ve been thinking about my demons a lot.” She and Tori then admitted they are very different kinds of witches, we all laughed, Tori’s powers are only for other people. When I made that post-it I’d misread the usual “confront” somewhere as “comfort” and was so sad to find it was no one’s genius, just my eyes’ mistake. I wanted to keep the mistake forever, nothing about me wants an argument. COMFORTING IS EVERYTHING; my demons are anxious. But then I get on the plane and land somewhere else, in wintry Idaho to suddenly visit a cousin as the case may be, transitions never as terrifying as the night before, and look where I find myself. We’re all hidden all over the place. Joy chose that one at the end of the night, she said she’d explain why later, and then everyone left. Joy does public engagement for the arts organization and writes fiction and leads clever free Saturday art workshops and talking with her incited the most expansively pummeling waves of aforementioned laughing. That laughter was STEALTHY and SERIOUS, ALL-CONSUMING and a LITTLE BIT DANGEROUS because I’d often stop by her desk when I meant to be on my way to the bathroom. Danielle, who curates projects at the adjacent high school where I was working, chose first and fastest, earlier that afternoon. Danielle is an amazingly helpful facilitator of all things arts, while also maintaining an air of elusiveness that pulls off the hilarious (to even herself, I think) trick of being both low-key and ironclad. She wanted to see the smallest number post-its, just the month that I’d been there at that point, laughed at several, grabbed the wrong horoscope. I think that’s where I’ll choose to disappear.