5-year-old Calder is a quiet, thoughtful child. After each day at school, he comes home with his pockets lined with precious things—flowers, confetti, twigs, and feathers—collected during his time away. And each day, his mother, Oakland-based photographer Melissa Kaseman, goes through her son’s tiny gems, preserving them forever in the series Preschool Pocket Treasures.
“I think collecting them has been a way to ground himself when the chaos of school is happening,” explains Kaseman of Calder’s many prized possessions. He is not, she explains, rowdy and rambunctious like some other children; he likes to take in the world around him carefully.
Preschool Pocket Treasures is in many ways a collaboration between mother and son; Calder likes to man the light reflector when Kaseman is arranging and photographing his trophies. When informed that his mother will be showing the work through CENTER, he responded with joy: “We made art together.”
In cherishing the curiosity, discovery and awe of childhood, Preschool Pocket Treasures can’t help but allude to the inevitable loss of that early enchantment. When he was two years old, Calder began picking up deceased butterflies and ladybugs, roly-polies and bumblebees. He now has a collection he endearingly—and poignantly—calls “the dead plate.” Calder might one day grow out of his treasures, but for now, his mother keeps them safe in a box, where they won’t be lost or crushed.
Preschool Pocket Treasures will be on view this fall during Review Santa Fe at CENTER.
All images © Melissa Kaseman