Elsewhere: Nostalgia at its Best

September 27, 2009 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

On Wednesday, my Interactive Writing and Design class took a trip to downtown Greensboro’s Elsewhere, an artist collaborative. Touted as a “living museum”, Elsewhere is a pack rat’s dream. As a fellow pack rat myself, I know.

In its past life Elsewhere was a furniture store, then army surplus store and boarding house. According to Elsewhere’s site, after her husband died, Sylvia Gray began collecting not only army surplus items, but any and everything. Mrs. Gray continued to collect and hoard items until her death in 1997. In 2003, her grandson invited his friends and fellow artists to help him go through the mass of “stuff” to find a method for the madness, and Elsewhere came about. The rest is history!

In its current incarnation, Elsewhere serves as a residency for artists from all over the world, and offers tours among its three floors for interested parties. As tourists to the museum explore, artists living in the boarding section of Elsewhere create larger-than-life installations and transform the first story.

Elsewhere as a whole is an interesting look at American culture, especially popular culture (and we all know I am quite the pop culture enthusiast). There’s over 50 decades of “stuff”: children’s toys, heaps and heaps of fabric, many many suitcases, television sets, cameras from the past, books, books, and more books, records, EVERYTHING. You name it, Elsewhere’s probably got it. 

I also think Elsewhere is an interesting solution for what to do with all Sylvia Gray’s stuff. Sure her grandson could have just hired someone to clean out and everything and dump it, but he didn’t. Instead, he stepped inside and took this mass of stuff, and transformed it into something new that could be used and enjoyed by the community, by thinking outside of the box. Nothing has left Elsewhere since (besides a rotation of artists and tourists) and nothing new has come in, yet each time someone enters, their visit will be completely different. Maybe you should think about that next time your cleaning out the garage!

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Entry filed under: COM 540- Interactive Writing & Design. Tags: .

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