I Had a Happy Childhood So I Can't Complain
My work is about childhood memories: those that drive us to recreate the past in the name of nostalgia, and those that stew and send us to therapy. My work contains:
middle school troubles,
love and nourishment,
passive aggression around the dinner table,
the immeasurable value of shiny, plastic “stuff,”
the self-reproach of childhood anxieties,
dress-up and the malleability of identity,
and that one thing my mother said to me in passing.
The work lives anecdotally, often in company with a short story or shared memory. The stories too variety in tone, existing as hyperbolic, childlike tales, or a detached, clinical understatement.
Instead of canvas, I use curtains, tablecloths, and blankets. These domestic fabrics are used to cover, protect, comfort, or hide, and over time fade into living environments becoming nearly invisible. I’m interested in how we decide whether to share memories or keep them secret. There are memories we hide even from ourselves. I see my paintings as symbols for these well worn tools we use to cope, protect, hide, or communicate. They represent the negotiations we have with our past, and how much of ourselves is accessible to our own mind and those around us.
Blanket dyed in the dead-heads from my mother’s garden. Dead-heading is when one removes dead/wilted flowers from plants. This is beneficial to the plants. My mother helped me collect the dead-heads. In her fervor she plucked live, healthy flowers.
Plastic beads from a necklace I made my mother as a child. Plastic jacks my mother bought to teach me her favorite childhood game.
A pine tree used to be the only tree in my sorority’s front yard. When Justine died, a pear tree was planted in the front yard in her honor. --- Bedsheet dyed in pine leaves and iron. Images of my sorority sisters.
Sycamore, Iron, Plastic Beads
Hand towel dyed in fallen leaves from the Art Institute’s public garden. Tassels made from a wig I once used to dress up as an old famous artist.
Tablecloth with traced photos of family dinners, spills, curtain rod bending under weight, dental impressions, hastily installed curtain (dyed in sycamore leaves sourced from outside my house).
Scrambled photo of a happy childhood memory (birthday pool party). Curtain dyed with plants from my current apartment’s backyard. A few years ago I threw a nostalgia themed party with juice, squirt guns, and a small inflatable pool. We all sat around with our feet dipped in the pool, completely unsure how to interact with it beyond that. We silently remembered the joy and excitement of the blow-up pools from our youth, struck with the fact that we can never set foot in the same one again.
Oil paint on a scrambled image of what was probably a middle school trauma. My dad is a psychologist who specializes in trauma therapy called EMDR. EMDR encourages strong painful memories to transform into “gist memory”. I tried it once and this is the gist of the color palette of my therapist’s office.
Tablecloth previously owned by an unknown family, dyed in foraged plants I no longer remember. Attached is half a buckle with a bell, and a roll of ring tape which has a function that alludes me.
Tablecloth dyed in plants around school, dipped in wax, creased. Pine attached