Why I Paint Vinyl Records

Why I Paint Vinyl Records- Emily Weber

Written by- Emily Weber- Amazing Artist

I began an early childhood romance with vinyl records as a music lover, first. I grew up in a household with cassette decks and a record player. The cassettes, I could shuffle through, and throw around clumsily; it didn’t seem to matter much, as inevitably they would get eaten by the tape player and you just learned to let go. The vinyl records were a completely different story, however. I remember always taking great care when handling any of the LPs I could get my hands onto. There was something so magical to me about them I just couldn’t resist. Flipping through the albums one by one, the incredible artwork on the covers came alive in my hands. As I’d gently squeeze the sleeve open to remove the record, an aroma of dust and mildew and a million memories would poof up my nose. I was always extremely careful not to get fingerprints anywhere over the grooves so as not to disrupt the needle’s graceful dance as the music would play. Each movement, each moment that I shared with a vinyl record, I treated it like my best friend. I would not let anything harm it, and I cherished the hours sitting intimately listening to, dancing and singing along with, or simply watching it spin. I could get lost in the music, and felt so lucky to have these wonderful objects that held such treasure in them!

It was not until 20-some years later in life that I was sitting in my apartment listening to an old favorite album of mine, when a record collector’s nightmare happened. The needle skipped, and skipped, and skipped, and it became clear to me that I had worn those grooves out! I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing my dear old friend out just because it didn’t play like it used to anymore. I began to anthropomorphize this piece of vinyl, and associated so many memories with it that I realized how similar we were. You see, I see vinyl records as a body, a vessel that the music travels in. It is like our human bodies carry our souls.

I began to think about the lifespan of a record, and how many of them outlive their human counterparts. I imagined all of the parties it was played at, the quiet nights at home, the garage sales,the flea markets, date nights, special occasions, being hot off the presses and a number one hit to being sold in a bargain bin at a thrift store for twenty-five cents. I thought about if it was loved to death, or received as a gift and put in an attic for decades, still hoping that someday someone would find it and just listen for once. I could’ve come up with endless stories about this special record’s life, but instead, I decided to just listen to it.

I stopped listening to the lyrics that were out of sync, and the musical content of the songs themselves. Instead, I considered myself a doctor listening to a patient’s heartbeat, patterns of breath, coughs, and sneezes. I was diagnosing the severity of this body’s condition, and trying to find a cure. I could not accept that just because it didn’t work like it used to that meant that it was worthless all of a sudden, so I decided its life needed to go forward in a new direction. I began filling the cracks and scratches with paint as an adhesive. And then, somehow, I got this idea to visually express on the record the life force that I felt from it; the energy, the stories, the visions, the pops and cracks and grittiness. I wanted to tell my friend’s story, and give it an opportunity to live another chapter as a living piece of art.

Just because you lose your voice, doesn’t mean you can’t still dance! So we danced together. I began painting and patching and listening and loving. I began saving and rejuvenating the lives of thrown-away LPs from the dump, and the ones that had been sitting collecting dust for far too long from friends’ houses. I now treat each one as an individual, and pay it special tender loving care. Every single one is different and beautiful, just like you and me. Everything has energy attached to it, and stories to tell; I paint old vinyl records as a way to connect those worlds of music and art and thoughts and emotions. Think about the record of your life – How would you be painted?

Wednesday June 4th be sure to stop by Red River Theatres in Concord from 6 to 8. to check out the artwork- More info here:
Stop by to check out the artwork in the gallery, enjoy some light refreshments, and have an opportunity to meet the artist, discuss, and ask questions!

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