You Are a Collector: Stories from Saratoga’s Most Interesting Collectors
Nuzzled in-between two screens of Tim Davis’ intricate exhibit, nine collectors — from Skidmore and the surrounding Saratoga area — told stories about their most prized collections, allowing part of their lives be characterized from just one hobby. Here are only some of the stories from all of the amazing collectors.
Davis began with a story about the first time he collected something. As a child, Davis was fascinated with dinosaurs and discovered that a tree on the street he used to live on was from the same time. He simply collected the leaves. But what mattered was the meaning those leaves carried with him. His story encompassed why people are in love with collecting the smallest things; every item holds a specific meaning to someone out there.
One by one, Davis himself introduced each collector. First up was Brittany Watts ‘20. Watt’s story was a big crowd pleaser. She recounted her troubling teenage years, and how she would often make up stories in her head about what she wanted to believe. But she realized this was inhibiting her from connecting with people, and began devoting herself to “working on letting go of her collection of fantasies in her head.”
Acadia Connor ’21 explained how she loved this story due to the fact that Watt’s “collection portrayed the state of the young adult mind,” eluding to the thoughts we constantly have as teenagers. Clara Pysh ’21 also agreed that Watt’s story was one to remember because she “had never thought about how we collect memories, or feelings, in our heads that other people would not think about.”
While Watts’ story of collecting was more about her thoughts and less so of a physical collection, George DeMers, a Short Order Cook here at Skidmore, spoke about his intensive collection of records and metal band record tapes. While carrying his hyper baby daughter and trying to show his cassette collection at the same time, DeMers’ story definitely provoked frequent laughter from the audience. He would look at and read the handwritten paper descriptions in each cassette tape.
“These are peoples’ dreams, and that’s why I identify with them,” DeMers said. He shares his collection on WSPN and loves it because “collections are a way of creating the human spirit,” and no other hobby is capable of that.
Another collector was fiction writer Mimi Lipson. This obscure and comical collection was also a crowd favorite. She started her story of collecting with a VHS video of her old cat Roy; a detail that had nothing to do with her collection. Alternately, Lipson collects cupcakes, but she doesn’t eat them. She stores all the differently decorated cupcakes in a large cabinet devoted only to them. The cupcakes must come from two bakeries in Massachusetts, thus ensuring their authenticity.
Hadia Bakkar was up next. Her story evoked a lot of emotions from the crowd, diverting them from the previously comical stories. Originally from Damascus, Syria, she talked about her struggles with returning home. Her collection, consisting of a wooden postcard given to her by her mother of a city line in Syria, helps her feel more connected to her home country. Though her mother told Bakkar to give it to a friend, Bakkar couldn’t. Since the Trump administration enacted the travel ban, it has been hard for Bakkar to return home. As a result, the wooden postcard has become even more important to her.
This night of collectors was unlike any other. The audience, transported into the collector’s life, could really see how each collection had impacted the storyteller's life. It showed how these people may be students, writers, or professors, but they all have vastly different stories about “various forms of obsessions,” as put by the ultimate collector himself, Tim Davis.