What’s the First Thing You Ever Made, Kristen T. Ramirez?

It still stings to recount a run-in with a childhood friend at our high school reunion in which she outed me to a small crowd: “Remember in elementary school how you always invited people over to colorinstead of to play?!” The subsequent laughter was—and remains—lost on me. Thirty years later, my perfect day would still be filled with crayons and coloring jams. Outside of the ubiquitous crayons and colored pencils, my materials were varied in the freewheeling late seventies and early eighties:

From 4th through 7th grade, the ledge just above the stovetop at my dad’s house was lined with my Plasticine cephalopods, unicorns, Hello Kitties, and woodland animals. They stood at attention for years, coated in a hearty veneer of kitchen grease.

The Can-Crusher™ (patent pending!) was fashioned from two 2 by 4’s, nailed together to form a “T”, resplendent in its wrapped ribbons, and colored with markers. We used it in the garage to crush empty cans of Dr. Pepper, Coors, and Tab before they went into the trash.

Multi-media bedroom installations were abundant. For years I slept under a floor-to-ceiling construction paper tree that dropped leaves. The tree was succeeded by an immersive Ms. Piggy installation that paid homage to my hero. Piggy stayed up through most of 6th grade until punk’s influence proved too strong. Then my sisters and I did intervention makeovers on our Barbies with safety pins, tats, and Mohawks before we hung them from the ceiling.

Who didn’t?

-Kristen is a visual artist and educator living in Seattle, WA. She likes the color orange. See her work at www.kristenramirez.com.