Here are your favorite objects, the ones you can’t live without, the ones you use to produce whatever you produce, the ones with the most sentimental value or the ones with the best stories. It features a series from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Teen Creative Agency (TCA)
Alejandro DiPrizio | 2nd year TCA member
From: Somewhere in Asia, possibly China
Made Of: Glass with bells inside and paint
Why: It looks like it is made for a ritualistic purpose
Alexis Moore | 2nd year TCA member
This breast cancer ribbon has never been worn by anyone. It is to honor my mother who passed away from breast cancer.
Andres Salamanca | 1st year TCA member
My item is a Prince Albert tobacco case. It holds things that are important to me. I bought the case in New York. It was my first case, and I have since been collecting them ever since.
Benjamin Marshall Jr. | 2nd year TCA member
Being human is a powerful concept. The changes that happen in and out of the body are astonishing: the color of your eyes, the tone of your voice, or the adjustments of your attitude. I focus on physical growth.
Elizabeth Adams |1st year TCA member
These are death dice: small, wooden, multicolored dice embroidered with stitching to make them appear leathery. They are stamped on each side with gold numbers or words. Rolling them determines the date of your inevitable death.
Elizabeth Johnson | 1st year TCA member
This chain of beads (felt, bells, and glass elephants painted with acrylic paint) was given to me by my grandmother on our last trip to India. As I was about to leave for boarding school, my grandmother gave it to me as a good luck charm and a remembrance of home. The chain has a loop that is made of gold and red cloth and the décor brings feelings of warmth and excitement into any room.
Ella Kinsman | 2nd year TCA member
These flags, Tibetan prayer flags, are from a Buddhist monastery I visited when I went to see the Dalai Lama speak. They have hung over my bed since. Each flag has five boxes. A different animal symbol is in each box. In the spaces between the boxes, there are blocks of text in Tibetan.
Ethan Viets-VanLear | 1st year TCA member
Made out of canvas, this is one of my retired shoes that I wore to the very end. It was deteriorating naturally until I finally ripped off the sole. I believe shoes tell a story of where you!ve been. “Don!t buy new shoes until you make a million.”
Kara Franco | 2nd year TCA member
This is a barrette that my mother wore on her wedding day. My mother gave it to me a long time ago. This is important to me because my mother has passed away and will not be there for me on my wedding day. I plan on restoring the original colors and wearing it on my wedding day.
LaMar Gayles | 2nd year TCA member
This is a necklace that I crafted from a particular form of quartz and wire. This necklace is special because I made it during a very rough time in my life, and the stone means a lot to me.
Lillian Buescher | 1st year TCA member
I have a collection of dolls from all over the world. These are from Kyoto, Guatemala, Turkey, Russia, and an Amish province. Some of them I collected, others I was given by family and friends. They serve as little pieces of other cultures and remind me of the interconnectedness of the world. Most are made of a myriad of materials, like wood, paper, wool, fiber, and cotton.
Marissa Macias | 1st year TCA member
This is my good luck charm that has traveled with me since I was five years old. The cicada has been in this jar for 20 years and has brought me good fortune ever since it was given to me.
Mattew Moen | 2nd year TCA member
I randomly selected my three objects (the one-eyed cat doll, the teeth mold, and the silver shoes) to be displayed together. As I try to write a label, I recognize that these objects mean so many things to me, but that I am interested in gathering your associations of how these three objects might relate to each other. Please share your interpretation on the staff survey at the end of the zine.
Nicholas Jackson | 2nd year TCA member
I am very interested in exploring how a person may have been brittle in the past, but is now expanding. I selected two objects: a ceramic t-rex that I painted in a seaside town years ago, and a chunk of hard quartz, a stone for which I’ve recently gained an affinity. The quartz’s ability to crush the small sculpture gives me a feeling of progression in terms of my personality.
Olivia So | 1st year TCA member
When I was ten years old, I asked my grandma what she thought of my personality. In response, she made this strange looking doll. Although it is made with simple yarn and craft store items, the bright colors and fluffy bottom symbolize what people think of me, especially my grandma. Now that she is gone, this is the only tangible representation of our close friendship.
Oran Dillon | 1st year TCA member
This is a Yugioh card. I just happened to have it in my wallet when I was looking for an object. It is not anything too special, I just really like Moki Moki and the card art.
Richard Jackson | 2nd year TCA member
This is a shell that I found a few years ago in Hawaii. Every time I see it, I remember the beautiful beaches. I found the beaches to calm feelings of negativity. This object is also important because it is special to remember the times I have spent with my mother.
Rosa Novak |2nd year TCA member
This is a box that fits inside a hand. Waxy to the touch, it is made of things that were lost and found, materials crafted by man or by nature, and assembled with love.
Xavier Smith | 2nd year TCA member
This is a pocketknife from my grandmother. She is my role model because she has always been there for me. She is also well known in the martial arts field. She used to have an eight-pack and was very skilled with weapons. Although she is a lot older now, I still treasure her, and I treasure the knife because I feel it protects me when I’m in trouble (not physically but in spirit).
The inside of my jacket shares the same technology as most pizza delivery bags.
I love using Post-It Notes as a temporary mind map. While brainstorming, I can write my thoughts on the notes and shuffle them around until I am ready to proceed with my ideas.
This is the key to a warehouse on Goose Island where I used to park production trucks when I was a production assistant. The garage is long gone but I still have the key.
This is my computer, my image factory. I spend hours and hours creating images, absolutely in love with it!
I have carried a handkerchief on a daily basis, on and off, for almost a decade now. I remember my dad having the standard white cotton hanky everywhere he went when I was growing up. Mostly for absurdly loud nose blowing. But now that I have adapted the use of a hanky for things other than nose blowing, I have found myself using it every single day for so many different reasons. I have used a hanky as a lunch box, bandage, sun block, dog toy, sling shot, a tie for bags while commuting on my bike… the list is endless.
I consider the iPhone the one product that I can’t live without because it simply owns and manages the workflow of everything I do in my daily life. From performance measuring of my exercise routines to logging my ever-expanding list of “ideas” to letting me proactively manage and perform work activities from practically anywhere, my iPhone makes managing my life a much more streamlined and enjoyable experience.
The most constant part of my practice is brainstorming in the form of lists, which is always the first step towards an idea and something that I do regularly.
My favorite object(s) are a set of 1950’s scotch glasses designed by Dorothy Thorp. They were a birthday gift from my girlfriend. I had seen them on the TV show Madmen and commented on how nice I thought they were. She tracked down four originals from that era. I am pretty sure it is lead paint around the rim but I really enjoy them.
Nothing is as useful for working wood or metal as a good file. All my files have a special place in my tool kit, but this one belonged to my Grandpa.
I was introduced to this tool of production while with Goods!, a Berkeley, California design and manufacturing firm best known for their “Zip Lamp” and perhaps slightly lesser known for the working vintage bumper cars that were used on occasion in the studio.
At Goods! I learned about precision.
This ruler, introduced to me (the hard way) by Sigmar, the “Design Chief” at Goods was superb at finding and checking center lines, true alignment, and measuring angles on part drawings and on graphics work. I quickly searched and found one direct from Germany – and have found it forever useful as a measurement tool to help move quick with sketches and check on those things that just seem a tad off at times.
I particularly like the handle too….which is a nice thoughtful human touch.
Both the Zip Lamp and the ruler live on my desk in my Seattle Studio……ready for action.
When I need to concept or write, I have to chew gum. Lots of it. The brand is always Extra. I’ll go through a pack in about two hours.
Attached you’ll find a photo of my Russell Hobbs electric tea kettle. While living London after college and became enamored with the electric tea pots found in every home and business. My mom bought this for me the Christmas I returned. Early on I used it to make instant soup and ramen. Then I had a hot-brewed iced coffee phase. Most recently, I’ve been back to Earl Gray tea.
I like pachouli, candles, weed, beers that require bottle openers, cigarettes and mischief.
I have a huge collection of encyclopedias, both for children and adults, from the last 50 years. I love the variety of illustrations and photographs and the strange and wonderful facts within which surprise me everytime I open them!
At any given time, I own several pairs of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, mostly high-top and some low-top. I love their design and versatility and you’ll find me wearing a pair almost every day.
It symbolizes where I came from and how important it is never to forget that. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
These steel salt & pepper shakers are hand-me-downs that originally came to me oxidized and black after years in a drawer. After a quick polish, I became obsessed with the quality, weight & simplicity of them. As a general rule – I love things that never break, go out of style or need replacing.
My eye drives my production. It is the guide to all I make. It conducts research and gathers inspiration. It is a choreographer directing other tools to achieve its vision. It judges, critiques, and inspects for perfection.
This blanket is the warmest, softest, and richest colored textile I have ever had the pleasure to wrap myself in, but I love the occasional thistle thorn that can be found buried deep in its fluffed fibers, a reminder of the old world process used to produce this. It is mohair, hand dyed and woven in Ezcaray, Spain, run through rolling spindles of dried thistles and finally, hand brushed, to achieve ultimate fluffiness.
I will say, that I find myself staring out the window often. So maybe that’s mine? My office with a window? It frees up my mind to let ideas come in. Which is kinda funny since my view is blocked by a half-constructed building — victim of recession. But if I recline enough in my chair, I can catch a glimpse of blue sky. My window is also a source of entertainment — as I am writing this there is a guy peering over the roof edge of the adjoining building. But now I must continue to stare at him to see that he doesn’t fall…
Corny as it is, these are my inspiration, in the house in Maine where I find solace, with the light that is what I live for, in the kitchen where my design sensibilities feel properly aligned…
Luis, 10 years old
My “transfigurator” makes me believe that everything is possible!
This is a Postalco* toolbox. I bought this toolbox short after arriving to the country for the first time, and it has been always with me in all my travels, carrying my drawing pens and pencils. Every time I open it, I feel happy and bounded to it in a special way, since I can feel the love that’s put in making it, and that inspires me to make nice things.
*Postalco is a small Japanese brand whose items are made with a very special design, the best materials and made with great craftsmanship in Japan.
I don’t smoke, nor I like ashes, but this ashtray is always on my desk. It used to belong to my great-grand mother. She did not smoke either. The small devil inspires me, not sure why… maybe it shows me that we all can have our favorite little devil.
Maria Haddock Lobo
Cable Car. We built it together, my son and I. What I like the most about it is the fact that it is a mode of transportation, intent to take toys from one shelve to the other, new ideas from a world to another.
I’m lugging this book everywhere in the world with me. It’s very comforting that it always has an answer.
The trusty and versatile Fineliner Pen puts the objects in my head to paper. Being that its language is always more eloquent and articulate than mine, it never leaves my pocket.
This is a bowl that my mom made and gave to me for my 30th birthday. I probably eat out of it every night. When I started taking pottery classes she dug into her old tools and discovered this unglazed bowl. We then went and glazed it together. She stopped doing pottery about 15 years ago, so its near and dear to me. I’m slowly working up my own skills and hope to someday throw a bowl as beautiful as hers.
While attempting to photograph a different object, my cat, Vasco promptly jumped into the shot. It was as if he knew that he should have been the focus of the photo. Typical. I got him as a kitten from the south side Humane Society on a cold winter day shortly after moving to Chicago. He’s been with me ever since, 7 years and counting. Ruining shots, driving roommates crazy, my best friend.
Moleskine weekly notebook. Old school calendar and task manager. Only thing that keeps me on track at work and at home.
Every morning I stir my coffee with this spoon–a piece of vintage Dansk flatware that my parents received on their wedding day in 1970. For decades, the rare, circular shape of the stem has confused guests that use this utensil. But the sensation of holding this object is a daily reminder that straying from uniformity can bring beauty and joy.
Paula, 7 years old
My beyblade is my favorite object because I love to play with it with my friends in school.
Tape. My favorite productivity tool and useful object. It can do more things than my computer… usually, until it’s gone. Then I buy another one.
My favorite object, or one of them, is the sound system. Its design is simple, timeless and precise, and provides an excellent quality of music reproduction.
Ramona Lauras Viscius
I love the colors, the sun, the water, the sounds, the sand of the beach. And I love this old umbrella because it protects me while I sit at my favorite place in the world.
Everything that I create in both my art and my design starts with a concept. Most concepts start with sketching, and many works are eventually completed through drawings. I injured my right index finger last year and haven’t been able to draw for 8 months, but after making a plastic brace with a pencil mount I am able to do some basic sketching again.
Creating social media marketing magic anytime from anywhere!
This 70s orange and chrome Steelcase couch in my office enables the most important part of my creative process. Since it’s difficult to make time to actually sit and think through a project, I have “couch time.” Putting on a record and sitting here with my sketchbook is like flipping a switch to focused, creative mode. I look forward to it and even schedule couch time now. Not only is it welcome time away from the computer, but it’s become critical to the imaginative early stages of producing work.
Stephen Smith (Neasden Control Centre)
The NCC official portable type studio.
The outlet of my mind to the page and world, this SumoGrip 0.5 mechanical pencil with adjustable large eraser and meaty grip cushion, has let my ideas flow into reality. Always in hand, I can easily make a note, sketch a concept, or explore a thought. The small tool leads to big strokes in my productivity.
MCA’s Teen Creative Agency (TCA) is a rigorous program where you interpret and make sense of art, yourself, and your world through the lens of your own creative questions and passions, and with contemporary art as a resource.
www2.mcachicago.org/teens/program | @TCAatMCA