Dillidallier: Skellies and Bones
Dillidallier is a mother-daughter team who like skulls, oogly eyes, and brightly colored things. They are Anastasia Wasko and The Mama. Dillidallier explores art-making as a transformative psychological process. Connection, disconnection, and life cycles are recurring themes.
The Mama (Pat Wasko) is based Kingston, NY, where she scavenges thrift stores, tag sales, and curbs for pieces of kitsch to corrupt. Anastasia is based online. The Mama does most of the crafting, and Anastasia does most of the concept drafting, photo- & story-making.
Anastasia: I love bones. I love them because they carry our sacks of goopy organs and blood and shape the body, this wunnerful self-contained life unit. Bones hold up our physical shape, which gives us physical boundaries. I love the way the bones physically look, long or short and knobby and usually white—separate from the body system. I’m intrigued by the visual association of bones with death-things—bones are pieces that say nothing but “life” to me. But my experience of selling bone-themed pieces has only enforced a sense of a gaping hole, you know, a hole that leads to things-we-don’t-talk about. I want people to look at my mom’s skellies, the skeleton-re-painted figures, and be knee-jerked into contemplation about life via a visual of what we usually associate with death.
The Mama: I started making them a few years ago. I woke up one morning and just really needed to paint a gnome as a skeleton.
Anastasia: One warmish afternoon a few months after mom’s artistic super-impulse, I decided to take a long ride. I was in Kingston, in the Hudson Valley, New York. I turned off my GPS and just the car zoom south, zoom along route 52 through Pine Bush. I happened to pass by a large-ish farmhouse with a few concrete garden gnomes out front—they were unpainted and I was feeling daft enough to ask if he would sell me one—so I turned around, parked across the street, and went over to the front door to introduce myself. Turned out, the man who made them—Kentucky Bob, he said his name was—poured the molds his’self. He took me out behind the house, showed me his collection, his gnome séance, or, what he called the permanent arrangement of six gnomes in the garden; he said set them there, together, so they could talk to each other at night. I spent the afternoon listening to Bob’s stories and ideas. He sold me a gnome, too. The Mama was elated when I returned home and showed her. She named him “Darden,” the dead garden gnome.
Anastasia: And then the Mama couldn’t stop. She wanted more and was willing to branch out in forms. Most of the pieces the Mama uses for Dillidallier skellies are cheap, porcelain mass reproductions of mid-century and later kitsch—discarded or unwanted material made by machines, I just love that provenance. Some are full skellies, some are havvies (part bone, part “normal”). I love that Dillidallier skellies are things, new life for dead-to-someone-else stuff. I often say that the skelly finds you, that is, it finds its home when the right person sees it and needs it. That person usually coughs up a very personal story for needing it; I’m fascinated by the ones I’ve heard. In other words, Dillidallier skellies are your friendly reminders to tell your stories.
Fuck yes, bones!