PROVINCETOWN — Tiny bottles, dried flowers, and pipe stems. Embroidered handkerchiefs, Pez dispensers, or art exclusively representing snails — the potential collections built from digging in thrift stores, scouring the internet, and accepting items from friends are innumerable.
A minimalist lifestyle just doesn’t offer enough space for some people’s robust and eclectic interests. Although “less is more” is conjured fondly by those who prefer modern aesthetics, there are others who just as avidly ascribe to the opposite. This week, we meet a few people who believe “more is more.” Their lives are fuller, in more ways than one, because of it.
“I collect bones,” says Deirdre Tasha. For her, collecting is tied to the impulse to create an environment that is true to things that fascinate and move her. Although she does not collect in an organized fashion, and many of her items are dusted with more than one cobweb, her bones are both familiar and important to her.
“It’s not so much about possession or ownership,” says Tasha. “It is about that which provides a sense of connection and belonging.” Where others might feel wary around osseous matter, Tasha does not feel uneasy about it in the least. Instead, she sees bones as fellow travelers.
“I am honored to be in their company,” she says. She likes the way they simply and unpretentiously embody tangible immortality. The small arm of a box turtle, given to her by a friend, holds within it power, history, and wonder.
Some people find it difficult to narrow down their passions the way Tasha has.
“I have a lot of obsessions,” says Paul Rizzo. Vintage clothing, magazines, and gay porn fill Rizzo’s home and studio. Drawn to the imperfections and oversaturated colors of old magazines, and the past lives of vintage clothing, Rizzo says his various collections give him a sense of connection to the past.
Items from the 1970s and 1980s stand out among his favorites. “I have nostalgia for both the times I’ve lived through and the times that I technically didn’t,” he says.
His collection draws him not just visually but physically. The experience of wearing his vintage tight shorts and pants is tactile and calming, he says.
“Looking at my bedroom studio, I look like a hoarder,” Rizzo admits. But there is an ebb and flow to his collection. He loses things and finds them again. Which is just as well, he says, because even finding things again brings joy.
For Austin Tyler, the items themselves come second to what they depict. “I collect print images, figurines, and small room accents that show octopi,” says Tyler, who, after years of admiring the animal, took his collection to a new level by getting a tattoo of the cephalopod across his arm, shoulder, and chest.
Tyler collects octopuses because they are “beautiful, weird, mysterious, and cool — all attributes I respect.” His collection, he says, is a way of “adding happy little reminders of how fascinating things in life can be.”
The only people who don’t take kindly to his collection, Tyler says, are those who have strong opinions about “things with too many arms.”
The range of odd collections in one small town proves there are no rules about what can catch the eye or what deserves to be kept and cherished. Anything’s collectible, as long as you have the space in your home and heart for it.