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Cookie Adams has a lot to say.
On the value of the things we throw away.
About how we treat each other and the world around us.
Have the courage to speak freely about your own convictions.
But the first thing you should probably know is that Cookie Adams isn’t her real name.
“They say your drag name is the name of your first pet, and your last name is the street you grew up on or your mother’s maiden name. Well, my mom had a little white Chihuahua named Cookie, ”said Gina Puzzuoli, the artist behind“ Final Arrangements, ”an art exhibit found at Taylor Books until Saturday, Oct. 10.
A psychiatrist at the Charleston Outpatient Clinic of the Veterans Hospital, Puzzuoli also owns Stray Dog Antiques, a shop full of antiques and oddities.
She has previously made and sold crafts and artwork under the Cookie Adams name – and over time, she has developed an entire personality for Cookie: she is fabulously wealthy. Judgmental. And don’t bite his tongue enough.
“She lives in Europe, in the south of France. She is rude. She doesn’t really like people. And – she’s a little snotty, ”Puzzuoli said.
She doesn’t really like Cookie either. But she somehow admires him.
“Here’s the thing about Cookie,” she said. “There is no pretension with Cookie. She is who she is. She knows she’s not very nice to people. She knows she’s passing judgment. But you know what? It does not matter.
“She cares about animals. She cares about the land. And, if people won’t tolerate it, it’s their call, not hers.
Puzzuoli says she cares about people – their stories. And like to think that most of us have learned a little more about impulse control than Cookie.
But some things, she said, are worth taking on.
“Final Arrangements” is his way – Cookie’s – of chastising people for anything they consider garbage.
Months ago, Puzzuoli started collecting items that had been thrown away, some from the thrift store of the past and present, some from a house a friend was returning. Others of acquaintances who put back the things they were done with.
She began to neatly store all these bright and colorful objects in large clear glass containers called display cases.
“There is hardly any glue in it. It’s almost all about placement and arrangement and pieces fitting together. … And that’s kind of what we’re talking about, right? Place things correctly, place the pieces together, ”she says.
Most of it, she added, was for landfill. Or an ocean.
“There are a lot of things there. And that’s only a small part of what we throw into our land. And Cookie doesn’t like it, ”she said.
The point is, Gina Puzzuoli doesn’t like him either.
And she’s ready to make that her own, rather than hiding behind someone else’s rougher, gruff character.
The exhibit, Puzzuoli said, is something of an exit party.
“It’s time. It’s time,” she said. “Because I think in order to get my point across about my feelings, about taking better care of the earth, I have to be able to talk more, not just say, ‘Well, Cookie thinks like that, Cookie thinks like that. I feel that.’
Each colorful display, she said, evokes comments and conjures up memories of adults remembering a special item they had as a child, or something a grandmother once owned.
“It’s almost like ‘I’m spying’,” Puzzuoli said, “and that’s kind of wonderful.”
As for the proceeds of the exhibition, she will naturally not use them to buy more things to throw away one day.
“I have nine cats and four dogs,” she says. “I take this money and I give it to BARC [the Boone Animal Rescue Coalition] who takes care of the thrown animals, which I absolutely hate.
She hopes the show will make people smile.
She also hopes it will make them think.
“Let’s stop before we throw something out and just ask, ‘Is there something we can do with it?'”