Who am I? This introspection didn’t result from turning 42 on Feb. 14. Aging doesn’t anguish me–I’m just glad to be alive. I’ve been compiling a list since early December of things that have made up my life so I could create a self-portrait. Art is a passion of mine–writing about it, collecting it, being with the people who create it. I’m a photographer and hand-paint furniture but I’m under no illusion that lives are elevated by my creative offerings. Being a part of an art exhibit, however, is on my short list of lifetime goals.

When I wrote my December Chapel Hill News art column about the “Self Portrait Project 2004,” a community-wide exhibition sponsored by the Chapel Hill Public Art Commission, I said I would create a piece to achieve a life goal and inspire readers. The non-juried exhibit is open to anyone who lives or works in Chapel Hill and Carrboro and all pieces submitted will be displayed in public venues around town. What was I going to create? My favorite artist is Joseph Cornell, who created assemblages–boxes containing tableaus built from objects and graphic images Cornell collected from the streets of New York and second-hand stores. So I bought a 44-drawer hardware box made by Akro-Mils that I found on sale at Hold Everything for $18.99. Each drawer would contain a slice of me. I feared I wouldn’t be able to fill each drawer. Now I’m in the thick of assembling the piece and all of “me” won’t fit. How do I edit my life? Is it more important to share that I’m a huge proponent of organ donation or that I’m a vegetarian? What should I reveal? I’m a gregarious soul (in the eighth grade I was nicknamed Motor Mouth Meyer by my algebra classmates), but certain things I listed possibly should not be revealed, like the “Mexico incident” or my hair trigger temper. Sharing the fact that when I was in college a football player at a party said to me in a very ugly voice that I had a fat rear-end is embarrassing but says much about why I don’t wear pants that show off my figure despite now being slim. What has been put in those drawers so far? X-rays of my teeth, a tiny spatula, and the recipe I used to make carrot cookies when I was 9. I still love to cook and feed people.

Another drawer holds a pink ribbon in support of cancer patients. My grandmother was dying of breast cancer when I found my first lump at age 17. My mother’s had a double mastectomy. I’m now dealing with a new lump in my breast. I feel it’s not a question of whether I will have cancer, but when. I’m known for having a glorious head of hair. Losing it to chemo makes me feel a defining part of me will disappear.

A miniature, black equestrian boot along with some strands of horsehair from my first horse that died two years ago sits in another drawer. The one next to it holds two toy snakes with a note, “Not afraid of snakes.” In the 44th drawer is a small chalkboard on which my motto is written, “The best is yet to come.” My piece is called, “Open All of Me.”

You should create a self-portrait just for the sake of being part of the experience. I’m having a blast, and though I know my new nickname around town will be Motor Mouth Meyer, I wouldn’t be missing this for anything. For information about getting involved, go to www.chapelhillarts.org or call 968-2888, ext. 377. See you at the reception on April 1.