Elissa Goldstone, Untitled (Baseball Drawing – Fly Ball), Paper and cotton thread, 11×16 inches, 2010.
Elissa Goldstone: Have you ever read any classic sports writing? The best is always about baseball (Roger Angell, Philip Roth, or John Updike). This is because baseball, more than any other sport, is nostalgia in motion. Even as it’s occurring in real-time, you’re already imagining the moment as a memory, and are contextualizing it as epic.
To be sure, most sports have this quality of memorializing, but baseball is designed to be viewed in the past-tense. It’s a long-term relationship, where the present moment or play is completely insignificant without the entire history of the game along side of it. And every play, be it awful or awe-inspiring, has a place in the books. So we buy treasures and proudly don jerseys and hats, and we keep signed bats and balls, all to keep us reliving the moment and, with it, a nostalgia for the game itself.
A baseball season is 162 games (not counting spring training and the post-season) and no matter how good your team is this year, or last year, or even for the past decade, you know, with absolute certainty, that winning cannot last. Heartbreak is inevitable. You cannot win every game. You can’t even come close. No team has ever won even seventy-five percent of their regular season games, and those that have come close are memorialized in the books and in the minds and paraphernalia of fans. It won’t last, but we remember—so it does.
I know this all sounds fatalistic, but it actually establishes a way to enjoy the minutia of the game. I spend time focusing on the details. The details are beautiful, and there so many. In my artwork, I try to focus on particulars that have a strong visual identity that stretch beyond baseball into American culture. Major League baseball has been played for 125-plus years; this game is ingrained. For example, everyone knows what a baseball looks like… . it’s classic and appealing: white leather with red stitching, symmetrical, and well-crafted. Of course, it exists to be thrown, or caught, or hit. But the ball recalls more than its usefulness. It’s an association to the game through a person, place, or time, and becomes a visual connector to memory.