Etamae opened her first 3D art installation on August 15th, 2020, with Little Boxes at the Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA).
Little Boxes. A simple little song or a political satire about the creation of suburbia and associated conformist middle class attitudes and a reminder to us all how easy it is to lose one’s individuality to ‘fit in’.
– Etamae’s introduction to Little Boxes
Little Boxes was written in 1962 by Malvina Reynolds, an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist and initially became a hit for Pete Seeger in 1963. It was written in response to Reynolds witnessing the birth of suburbia in California through the development of tract housing like that seen in Daly City, San Francisco.
It’s a song that can easily be listened to as a little bit of fun or as a genuine satirical warning against the loss of genuine individuality in the face of the marching drive of middle-class idealism, where everyone attends the same schools and universities, seeks the same class of careers, lives among peers with the same backgrounds and careers and wanting the same precisely the same education / career path for their children.
All of this is perfectly reflected in Eta’s installation, presenting as it does five gaily-coloured little house boxes visitors are invited to enter, each one reflecting within it as specific element of the song’s lyrics (with more on the walls outside) that can be read or – with a click on them – listened to. This makes it something of a simple, light-hearted visit, or a piece to give us pause to reflect on the whole question of individually vs. conformity, which has become perhaps even more prevalent in the decades since the song was first recorded – and in far more than just middle-class suburbia.
Whether you opt to look at Eta’s little Boxes as a tongue-in-cheek installation, or an underscoring of Reyonold’s song, it’s worth hopping over to HEA and taking a look at it and the other installations on offer there. In the meantime here’s the song.
- Hannington Endowment for the Arts ( Xeltentat Enterprises, rated Moderate)