The inspiration for the original mixed media piece “Exile” came from a very personal experience of loss and mourning during the swift dissolution of my family after my mother’s death. I used this show to explore the distillation of a person’s life to taxes, tangible property and record keeping. I often felt that administration took over the real business of mourning. Painting this show was a meditation on these issues, but the process brought me back full circle to celebrate the grace and light in my parent’s lives while reminding me to walk the line on my own.
Years ago I bought a 1910 Sears and Roebuck house. It gave a new meaning to the word fixer-upper. The house was covered in dated, flowery wallpaper, and when I started the renovation, I discovered that the wallpaper was holding the plaster and lathe together. I was struck by the fact that something so decorative had morphed into a structural element and given spine to a decaying house.
For this show I used wallpaper designs I found in books as inspiration, sparked by that old Boulder house. I needed the decorative backdrop to explore the more sober theme of losing both parents in swift succession. I had heard that dealing with an estate of a beloved, no matter what the size, is fraught with challenges and now I certainly agree. I was struck by the charge of stuff that the dead leave behind, the power it holds, and was surprised by my own reactions to tangible property. Why do we get so attached to things and why do we think “stuff” really matters?
Before my mother died, I dutifully plowed through books on death and dying, loss and longing. I pored through self-help classics, underlining and taking notes, as if mourning were a tidy and succinct process. When my mother died, my experience did not nearly collide with what I had read. I was utterly bewildered and unprepared. The only definitive thing I now know about mourning is how definitively personal it is.
I was also astonished at other people’s responses to mourning. Some wrote beautiful letters, while others tucked into silence, and still others flailed around the topic. Some people asked me if I was healed, which reflects our society’s very perfunctory approach to death and dying. I realized that our society often treats mourning as inconvenient and ignores the balance of life AND death.
Losing a beloved is a passage we must all go through, but is, ultimately, a very solitary experience. I decided to address this pilgrimage through collages and watercolors like “Exile”. 2011.
Original signed Singer Editions print. Edition of 25.
Singer Editions is a fine art digital printmaking atelier specializing in the production of limited edition prints. Artist and printmaker work collaboratively, following a very traditional printmaking model during which the artist is involved at every stage of the process. The digital nature provides an unprecedented amount of control, insuring that every print accurately and faithful represents the artists’ vision. Each print is produced one-at-a-time by hand, and goes through a careful curating process before leaving the studio. In addition to the pride and craftsmanship that goes into the production of these prints, at every step of the process the highest quality, most permanent and most archival materials are utilized. The use of these quality materials insures that the prints will last a lifetime with no degradation to color or substrate. These prints were produced digitally using Epson printmaking technology. The paper is Museo manufactured by Crane; it combines a natural paper base with a surface specifically prepared to receive ink. I keep my editions small.
The piece: 16″ x 21″