Gordon Peteran saw an old cane out of the corner of his eye and felt a connection. If this sounds like a song you’ve heard before, you’re right. People have been restoring, reinterpreting and repurposing found objects for ever. For what purpose? Well, you may just wanna have fun. Or you just can’t afford the real thing- if you are a person with a disability, you have heard that one before.
And artists? “Sometimes artists follow a hunch into an unknown territory recklessly chasing an unjustifiable intuition.”
Peteran knew that the cane he found and restored meant more to him than beauty or memory or mobility.
Petarans thoughts run along a philosophical line, connecting self awareness and societal pressures to the ‘designed ideal’, “each of us is probably overcoming a perceived inadequate . . that often requires some form of prosthetic.”
Struggling with your body or parts of your body can be a source of strength. Peteran explains, “sometimes we mistake disability as a disadvantage and the best thing to do is to work with your resistance, not against it.” He has a real life example: “my grandma capitalized on a perceived weakness – she taught at school with polio and wooden crutches.”
His grandmother’s example made Peteran realize that sometimes trying to help gets in the way of people moving along with their life. His grandmother didn’t need fixing, she did not have a ‘wrong body’, what she needed was to teach children.
His motto? Don’t try to fix people. And make a u-turn: consider the disruption of the assumed condition.
Look at it this way, Peteran says, “everyone’s redeeming quality comes from their weakest point.” Being disabled helped his grandmother be a better teacher, a better person, made her someone who had unique and valuable insights on living, on adversity, on the built environment. Insights that the kids she taught would not have been able to profit from had she not been their teacher.
In response to what he will do with the cane now Peteran says it will end up being his cane, “it has a bolt right on the curve of the handle that presses in the palm of my hand, and I like that.”
A restored cane that brings its owner pleasure. No fixing or nothing. It’s a good feeling.
— Thanks to Sarah Crosskey for the quotations. Any misinterpretation of the artist’s intention is the responsibility of Freddie Arps.