Caitlin Perkins

Caitlin Perkins
Artist and member of Space 1026,
Manager of Adult Programs, Fleisher Art Memorial

I own a lot of bags—small ones, big ones, canvas, burlap, leather, overly ugly totes, some stained and some sturdy. Some are frivolous, some sparkly, some deep. As an artist I carry a lot of stuff. As an arts administrator I carry a lot of stuff. One needs bags to carry stuff.

Here’s a little secret: a job in the Philadelphia art scene sounds glamorous and hip,but there is an ugly side to this world: you become a mule. Not the dangerous, seedy, illicit border-crossing drug-carrying kind of mule. Rather a mule doing the backbreaking job of packing stuff—what my co-workers refer to as “schlepping”. This packing, repacking, and moving of materials for events and programs into endless borrowed cars or taxis or buses is exhausting. As an artist, I find that I also “schlep” packing materials, supplies, and more to and from home, office, and studio. And since my schedule keeps me out from 9 am to 10 pm, there’s usually food, a change of socks, and sometimes a change of clothes for working in the studio.

On a day-to-day basis the contents of my “purse” include:
-A calendar
-A sketchbook (with pocket for ephemera I pick up)
-Rubbing crayons (to collect interesting textures on the street)
-5-6 pens in a range of brown and black inks
-Mechanical pencils
-My favorite Olfa razor knife (always removed before flying or bus trips)
-Keys (for bike, home, office, studio and Philadelphia Car Share)
-A plastic folder for printed materials
-My cell phone
-My USB junk drive
-A digital camera
-My wallet (usually cash-free)
-A Peruvian coin
-Two Chinese fortunes
-A smaller bag with:
–Bus tokens
–Two flattened pennies from tourist attractions
–Lime Tic Tacs
–2 purple Band-aids
–A glue stick
–A Philadelphia Museum of Art admission pin (red)

In addition to carrying the “purse” described above, below is an actual list of what I carried for one November week.

Monday, for a printmaking workshop for 40 kids:
-A large canvas tote with 45 woodcut blocks
-36 carving tools
-8 containers of relief ink
-8 brayers
-6 barens
-10 wooden spoons
-40 plastic aprons

I won’t go into the gory details since I survived the experience, although many of those school uniforms did not. (And the experience reinforces the conviction that I don’t have enough bags or time for kids of my own.)

Later that afternoon, my bag for working on my mural at SPECTOR’s Drawing For It 2 show:
-1 Gladware container of paint—a mixture of graphite powder and acrylic
-A paintbrush collection enclosed in fabric wrapper
-A book of typography from the 19th Century
-An additional Olfa knife
-A self-healing cutting mat
-An apron
-My large sketchbook
-A bucket for water
-Paper towels
-A roll of blue masking tape

Tuesday, on the way to morning marketing meeting for a Philagrafika event:
-A proposal for the Yerba Buena art center for a Space 1026 group show
-A blue thermos of coffee (my attempt to be frugal)
In another bag:
-A laptop
-Spreadsheet of the participating artists’ names and info
-Snacks for the volunteers
-The prints for the event
-Miscellaneous art supplies

-Just my “purse”
-A canvas bag with a laptop
-A portfolio with my own edition of 15 prints for the exchange

-6 cardboard boxes of prints for the Big Block exchange
-A large donation of paper (3 rolls each weighing about 20 pounds)
-Bags of snacks.

My parents arrived on Southwest flight #2133 on Thursday night to join me for the opening reception for Drawing For It 2 with only one suitcase. My family prides itself on packing ability.

After work I went shopping with my parents. I bought a new pair of pants with pockets so I wouldn’t have to carry anything at the reception. My boyfriend arrived from Washington, DC at SPECTOR with a gift, a green bag of fancy chocolates which he promptly handed to me.

I carried my bag of chocolates home from the gallery; it was light and full of promise.
Published 5/2006

Space 1026

*photo by Michael T Regan