Michael Pajon
Miami Project, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Dec. 2nd -7th Midtown Miami/Wynwood District

Palimpsest: New Collages, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Opening February 7th, 2015


Many people ask me if these are cut by hand or made on a computer, until they see them in person in can be hard to tell that everything is original and cut by hand. The materials range in date from the 1880's-1950's roughly. I use playing cards, calling cards, prescription labels, postcards, scientific manuals, text books, matchbooks, children's book illustrations, hand written ledgers, old how to manuals like; popular mechanics, Home Improvements, Railroad Illustrated, and old broadsheets just to name some of the kinds of ephemera that inspire the work.

O Bury Me Not!
O bury me not on the lone prairie
Where coyotes howl and the wind blows free
In a narrow grave just six by three—
O bury me not on the lone prairie

It matters not, I’ve been told,
Where the body lies when the heart grows cold
Yet grant, o grant, this wish to me
O bury me not on the lone prairie.

I’ve always wished to be laid when I died
In a little churchyard on the green hillside
By my father’s grave, there let me be,
O bury me not on the lone prairie.
Published 1932

This popular folk song has turned up through music and film for over 75 years, and was published in the final days of the West as undiscovered frontier, further mythologizing the Cowboy in American history. The lyrics of this song reflect and embody much of what this work has become. This song chronicles the lament of a dying cowboy, a symbol of freedom, adventure and an untamed American spirit, a young man that had probably seen more of the country at the time than most. Five and dimes of his era were stockpiled with stories of bravery and courage from the great American frontier, but it’s all in a name, and he isn’t Buffalo Bill Cody. This is everyman, his last dying wish to be buried with his family in an idyllic setting with a headstone bearing his name and perhaps a good deed or two. The plot and headstone would have afforded the young cowboy a place amongst civilization, a place beyond death, assuaging his fear of being buried in the loveless embrace of the cold ground in a narrow grave six by three…on the lone prairie, loved only by the worms in his coffin.
Death is a prevalent theme in this body of work, it is something that has shaped my life significantly, and the lives of those portrayed eternally. Amongst them are dentists, salesmen, hucksters, hunters, school children, snake oil salesmen, and preachers -- the ‘lesser’ folk of our collective American history. They, like the dying cowboy, should be allowed the luxury of myth.

Myth is…a palace,
truth without fact.
Myth is birth and pleasure, teeth and death,
sharp shiver of that which is broken.

Excerpt from The Book of Failed Descriptions, By Tod Marshall

For it is in this myth-making that truths can be found, and it is in death that we return to the earth, the final truest act we will make. These collages are the headstones of the forgotten and the discarded, reliquaries, suspending that notion of death and the unknown, replacing it with myth and story, scrolling narratives of American fable and folly, painted in torn ticket stubs and moth eaten medical manuals.