In the room, the creations of Lane Speidel’s Don’t Miss Me watch us with sweet eyes. The exhibit surrounds us like tiny guardian angels and guardian devils, in the form of found objects (placed like little altars), a wardrobe of handsewn clothing, collage-like drawing masterpieces, and words written like truest secrets in hidden parts of the walls. Lane told me that they realized during this artistic process that this was “the work they were supposed to be making” and that is very clear. Don’t Miss Me has a magic sense of groundedness to it –– groundedness not as stillness, but as growing and reaching upwards and sinking roots downwards. Groundedness as not yet done, as always whole, as nothing ever totally known. I think Don’t Miss Me would keep growing on its own if we let it. If we turned a blind eye, the drawn faces would sprout hands and feet and it would keep collecting through fingernails and moon slivers.

Lane told me that the art hung on the walls of Vox Populi’s gallery is not far off from the work that they made when they were a child. The show reminds us “becoming” (into me, into you, into whole, into broken) is not linear. Adulthood coexists with childhood. Lane recalled to me a rare moment of self-love when they were 8 years old and playing with a toy house. They said that moment was fleeting and uncatchable, and I like to think they have strung together a net to hold the fleetingness until they’ve transformed a toy to be a very big new house in the form of Don’t Miss Me.

Things that are contradictory coexist peacefully, and this feels realistic as I sit looking through long curtains made of paper, pictures and a raincloud (things grown from Lane’s fingertips, still sprouting). The sweet eyes that watch us as we watch back are finished and changing, and I wonder what this felted flower was before Lane sewed its petals together. I wonder who wrote these words on this letter and I wonder how many bodies have stood looking into this mirror. Nothing feels just born, like it’s been held and has held before. The breath of Don’t Miss Me embraces current childhood. Each day of the exhibit is one of a kind because every person who steps in the room makes it what it is. Don’t Miss Me is clearly formed by Lane’s community, and they are influenced by anyone who chooses to be a part of this space. Lane gently invites the visitor to nurture this house –– gathering and solitude both have a seat here.

Here in this big toy house made of shed chrysalises and delicate premonitions I see Lane, at age 8.
We pay attention to the parts that are like honey and the parts that hurt, the stitches that fix and the wounds that burn. The sweet eyes see us through a paper garland, window light making a plastic bag glow, scar tissue and the words “I just decided that I love myself.”