Project for Dumbo Feather by Harrell Fletcher with his daughter, Beatrice, 2011
A magazine in Australia called Dumbo Feather asked me (Harrell) to do the back covers for their magazine. They are a quarterly, so I did four of them. At the time and still now I go to a park near my house with my daughter Beatrice, then 3 or 4 years old, and our dogs on a regular basis. I started taking photos of Beatrice climbing in trees and things like that at the park and I liked the images, so I gave them four of those photos to use, one for each issue, and then I conducted an interview with her on various subjects. I did a new interview each time an issue of the magazine would come out. The interviews were posted on the magazine’s website, and other people were encouraged to also submit their own photos and interviews with children to the website. When the project concluded there was a nice set of photos and interviews with children from all over the world.
Harrell: What did you have for lunch today?
Beatrice: Chocolate milk with chocolate cheese and chocolate daisies. (Taking the I-phone away from me that I use for recording our conversations and sticking it in my face) why don’t you tell me how dogs eat?
H: uh, with their mouths, and their teeth and tongues. (Recovering the I-phone) What do you like about ice cream?
H: What did you see at the beach today?
H: What happened last night when you called for me when you were in your bed trying to go to sleep?
B: It was too noisy in my room.
H: What was the sound that you heard?
B: My heart beating blood through my body.
H: You could hear your own heart beating? What did it sound like?
B: Marching bands.
H: Did you like that sound?
H: How do you know when a dog is healthy?
B: When them have happy eyes. Huuleesh (our Rat Terrier) has happy eyes, but Hazel (our Shepard/Husky mix) has sad eyes.
H: Does that mean Hazel is sick?
B: No, because I don’t hear her coughing.
H: What happens when you go to sleep?
H: What happens when you wake up?
H: Bea, you have to answer my questions, I’m interviewing you.
B: Bats, bats, bats.
Harrell: What was it like flying on the airplane?
Beatrice: Does the airplane flap its wings to fly?
H: What do you think?
B: No, I didn’t see it flap its wings. Can we send an email to Grandpa?
H: But you know that Grandpa died in January, so I don’t think an email could reach him.
B: Can we give him a call?
H: I don’t think that will work either. What would you write to him in an email if we were to try to send him one?
B: I would ask him if he has a cat, meow, meow.
H: Interesting. He didn’t have any cats when he was alive, but I guess you never know. He did like animals.
B: Let’s dance with the dogs.
H: The dogs never seem to want to dance with us.
B: Yes, they do. Huuleesh dances with her ears, Hazel dances with her eyes.
H: What was your favorite part of the trip to California? Going to the beach?
B: What does the ocean’s butt look like?
H: I’ve never thought about that. What do you think it looks like?
B: The ocean’s butt is blue and is down below. Its face is on top and splashes come out.
H: (Pointing to a painting that Bea was working on) What color is that?
B: Green. I made it by mixing blue and the color of the sun.
H: Wow, I didn’t know you knew how to mix colors. What do you get when you mix red and yellow?
B: No more answers.
Harrell: You just told me that you think our house is like a snake, why do you say that?
Beatrice: Kind of like a snake.
H: What do you mean?
B: What lives in Alabamo?
H: Do you mean Alabama?
B: Uh huh.
H: Well, people live there, animals.
B: What kind, what kind of animals?
H: Maybe there are alligators there.
B: I think some monkeys and bears would live there.
H: What makes you think that?
B: Silence. (She said the word “silence”)
H: Are you telling me to be silent or are you saying that silence makes monkeys and bears?
B: I’m saying that silence makes monkeys and bears, why does it make monkeys and bears?
H: You’re the one that said that, I don’t know anything about that.
B: But what about a flutterfly?
H: I’ve never heard of a flutterfly. Is it like a butterfly?
B: Yes, but it has wing magic. Our house is kind of like a star.
H: Why is it like a star.
B: Because it is a triangle-zoup.
H: What is a triangle-zoup?
B: A triangle-zoup is when you zoup, and then make a triangle.
H: What do you think about the music on the radio right now?
B: Classical music.
H: Do you like classical music.
B: Classical music makes me think of five.
B: Five people resisted, and we are five people, are we five?
H: What do you mean five people resisted?
B: We resisted.
H: Resisted what?
B: I’m just joking.
Beatrice: I want to be a dentist, I mean a hair doctor.
Harrell: What does a hair doctor do?
B: They brush people’s hair and look in there to see if they have any mice in their hair. (She tries to spin my chair around.) You need to do some hip hop.
H: I’ll take that into consideration.
B: My brain doesn’t go away when I go to sleep.
H: What happens when you go to sleep?
B: Get bad dreams, hurt, pain.
H: What kind of bad dreams and pain?
B: About rotting onions and carrots.
H: That was what your bad dream was about?
B: Someone ate a molded carrot.
H: Very scary sounding.
B: Mama is arting in her workroom.
B: Yeah, making dresses, and watching movies.
H: Do you like flying on airplanes?
B: No, but when we were landing in Nevada everything looked like toys. Toy houses, toy cars, toy everything.
H: Tell me about the turbulence that we felt on the airplane, what was that like?
B: We shook around like a bowl of soup.
H: What do you know about science?
B: Don’t waste gravity.
H: Interesting, what else?
B: Candles are so beautiful they come on like little stars.
H: What are stars made of?
B: A person star, or not a person star?
H: Well, I was thinking of the not a person star, but whatever you want to respond to is fine.
B: I don’t know. When I go to sleep I disappear.
H: You disappear?
B: No, I stay. I’m just wiggling my brain.
H: Anything else you want to say? This is our last interview.
B: Write down my song. (She then sings…) Good bye, good bye, good bye.