The attached image is a photograph of the sculpture I created using objects that represent my past memory as well as present vision of Hobbs Coffee.
I have a complex emotional relationship with Hobbs Coffee. The college town coffee shop was at one time a place where I felt at home; I hung out there all the time and a number of close friends were employed there. It was also a place I spent a lot of time in with my ex-girlfriend over the course of our relationship and a place of significance to our relationship in general. In fact, one of my first times ever seeing her was outside Hobbs. My relationship with those friends changed and soured over the time though and I broke up with my girlfriend almost a year ago. It thus gradually became a place I no longer felt comfortable. What was once a relaxing and pleasant sanctuary of sorts became an unpleasant and unfriendly place I purposely avoided. Objects in the sculpture were selected and arranged to recreate my past / present version of Hobbs.
The centermost object in the sculpture is a striped Polo shirt…the typical uniform of a Hobbs employee was a rag tag combination of an adjustable baseball hat and a thrift store Polo shirt or button up. This object is thus used to personify (albeit interchangeably) one of the people who occupy my memory of Hobbs; it gives the sculpture a core.
Suspended to the upper left and right are photos I took on a disposable camera almost 2 years ago. They are perhaps more concrete representations of Hobbs as they are actual photographs from the shop. However, they are still memories and by nature selective. To me, they also have a certain aura and mystique to them and I have a tendency to romanticize them. The photo on the upper left I distinctly remember taking when my ex-girlfriend was adding milk to her coffee and the photo on the lower right shows an employee (and former friend) stocking the drinks. Both images are emotionally charged and to me represent an era spent in this place that is now long gone. The photo of the coffee represents a fonder memory, a pleasant moment spent with my girlfriend, while the photo of my former friend has a more negative charge as it reminds me of how my relationship with him shifted and leaves me feeling bitter. There thus is emotional contrast present in the arrangement, though not outwardly obvious to the viewer. The images both serve as representations of the “past” version of Hobbs I have mentally constructed.
Just below the photo on the lower right hangs a kitschy coffee mug much like ones Hobbs served drinks in. I used it as perhaps an emotionally neutral artifact, one used to further re-create the environment of the coffee shop. The punch card on the lower left, opposite of the mug, is used for similar effect, though this artifact is much more personal. It has sat in my wallet for quite some time, likely never to be punched again, a visceral reminder of Hobbs that is almost always with me.
Affixed to the top button of the Polo is another subtle, but poignant artifact. It is a folded cigarette pack cellophane with a Pennsylvania tax stamp. Smoking outside Hobbs was a social activity almost as central to the place as drinking coffee so I felt I had to reference it in some sense; there are countless memories that hang in my mind of smoking outside Hobbs. The last time I was at Hobbs though, I had a particularly charged confrontation with a former friend, during which we were both smoking together outside. I remember his hands trembling as he smoked, likely from the anxiety of the encounter. This object is thus representative of my “present” version of Hobbs.