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July: Haystack and back Home

I think about my time at Haystack everyday since I've been home.

I think about moments of solace and reflection.

Swimming in the ocean, the shell-shard-sand that looked like little landscapes in slabs of stone.

Nights in the studio, the sound of rain.

The leaves of the trees illuminated through the windows by the light of the studio.

My hands stained blue.

Shifting skies. Fireflies in the tall grass on the trail to the water.

Feeling scared and then the feeling when it leaves you.

My darkness turning to light.

I ended up making work about my Mom.

At first, without really realizing it.

Until it was happening and that's all I wanted to say. Thinking about what I have left of hers: objects to cling to. To feel like I can hold her close in some way. Reconciling with the fact that these few objects are here longer than she was.

Reconciling with the bad memories, yearning to remember the good.

Accepting there is only so much I can control.

So I try to relive the good memories.

The ones I feel so viscerally.

The ones that envelop me when I close my eyes.

So here I cling to those memories, those feelings, and when I can,

the objects, too.

I started with the image of a Sensitive Fern. Because the form has been comforting me. The simplicity of it.

The soft waved edges and the fact that it's so abundant.

I ended up pushing through this painting that I really didn't like at first.

Making it into something I did. And I used this painting as my image for my linocut. Thinking about nighttime, the inability to focus your eyes on a shadow or the thing.

Tiny illuminations and outlines.

Lots of marks, but leaving a little space for night sky.

So I made several renderings of this print in various shades of blues,

embracing inconsistency and imperfections, and using different papers.

Printing this image over and over again felt like the act of remembering.

And felt like dreaming, too.

Sometimes I long to remember a moment just as I experienced it.

Clinging to memories to bring me closer to her,

to bring her back.

While making this work I was thinking about her copy of Charlotte's Web,

the character Fern, her love and care, and her sensitivity as strength.

Thinking about what stays with us throughout our life and after.

Thinking about my mom as a person, someone who loved, protected, and nurtured.

Thinking about her values, her sensitivities, her character.

Her life and the person she was when she first received her copy of Charlotte's Web at the age of nine,

and who she became,

Who she was when she died at the age of 60.

I spent a lot of time acknowledging the way I communicate, or don't.

Acknowledging my own fears and my own desires.

Acknowledging the ways I build up to a point of articulation in my work.

I think I knew I needed a little guidance to get to this point.

I've been making making making and not really pausing to think about what I am doing.

Mainly because I was just trying to get through each day.

I kept telling people it had been two years since she died.

It actually hasn't.

Someone reminded me that it actually hasn't been that long.

Some days I feel like it's been years and years--mainly when I feel scared, disconnected.

Most days it feels like I'm still there the day it was happening.

Fun fact: I still don't have an urn for my mom.

She is literally in the plastic box you get from the funeral home.

Kinda funny but not funny, too.

So in my own way, I made her one with my final carving project.

The box is supposed to resemble a jewelry box of hers that I now own.

The box holds a small accordion book about this endless grief. Decoratively carved with ferns and memories.

I realized that I've been suppressing so much, refusing myself the opportunity to be open about my grief.

And at the same time, part of my understanding of this process is knowing it will be with me forever.

Which is slightly comforting, a little less terrifying, and less dramatic as it sounds.

But it means I am not eager to rush my processing for anyone else other than myself.

Art has saved me so many times in my life.

I believe it will nurture me and guide me through this, too.

I am deeply grateful for the softness and the sensitivity

of those around me at Haystack that allowed me to share that.

I am deeply grateful for my class for creating the space for me to be vulnerable,

and finally share these images, their meaning, and the love and longing I have for my mom.

I'll leave you with a tiny moment from a poem I wrote:


I think currently I am making two kinds of work:

one about grief, loss, longing, death, fear, life without the ones you love.

And the other, work about reconciling with life afterwards.

Looking towards a future, looking towards light,

observing and recording life around me

as a reminder that I am still moving through this world

despite so much loss, pain, suffering, sadness, and grief.

I'm really moved by messy, lush, landscapes, adding light in dark spaces,

creating imagined landscapes that can hold our grief and love simultaneously.

And now I am home.

Trying to meet myself with kindness, softness, and the same openness that this place gave to me.

And in conclusion: ily haystack, here are some photos.

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