Low Art That Is Much Loved: On The Fridge


Submitted 2 months ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

This could be a little embarrassing (or so those who have visited my kitchen have said) so I am going to put it right out there. I have a collection of refrigerator magnets. And I like them. And they will be going away soon, sort of. 

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One reason for our trove of refrigerator magnets is this: my husband and I love to travel and never, ever check our luggage, which means that our carry-on bags are always stuffed to a level of near-explosive force. With mere millimeters of spare space, what then can we possibly bring home as souvenirs? Refrigerator magnets--thin, light, and with scant square surface inches, entirely capable of being wedged into the tiniest crevice of a suitcase. 

Every time I get the milk out of the refrigerator, I enjoy a memory of somewhere we have been. The Pont du Gard in southern France, the leaning canal houses of Amsterdam, the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Closer to home, there’s one from the New England Aquarium, another from the Currier Museum of Art.

While most are travel and/or art exhibition souvenirs, there are a few others that evoke different parts of my history, like a magnetized photo of my first cat, Lizzie, or a 1950s-style bride with a caption that says “I am blissfully unaware of my peril,” given to me by my husband as an engagement present. Each magnet provides a short, pleasant meditation that helps to pass the time while I engage in the back-wrenching exercise of, oh, looking for the grated cheese, perhaps, that always seems to be behind something on the refrigerator’s bottom shelf (or not). 

No, the refrigerator is not green. It is so old that it is a color called “bisque.”

The 20-year old fridge needs to go soon, to be replaced with a shiny stainless steel model, the surface of which will not accommodate magnets.  Our first thought: where will the magnets live? What will become of our tinny, tiny works of art? The husband to the rescue, emerging from the basement with old picture frames to which he had cut and attached some sheet metal backing. And so we sat, giving our magnets new homes, constructing new works of art within each picture frame, like ill-fitting, slightly 3D jigsaw puzzles.  

They look great. No, we do not yet know where to hang them. That’s the remaining, slightly awkward, piece of the puzzle. 

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