Do You Remember?

Discovering myself while I explore how personal memories shape my experiences and create subconscious images for the subject of my work.

Artists are inspired by many things, often referencing passages of time, past memories, memories of people, places or spiritual experiences. Sometimes the title may specify the expressed memory or the artists may talk about the role memory played to create their work.
An example of this is the series of paintings done by Agnes Martin in which she explores memory in relationship to spirituality. She uses titles such as “Happy Holiday” to evoke happy memories from the past. Her paintings series were products of personal and spiritual struggle in her inner emotional world’.”
Judith Salmon explores the recordings of other peoples memories in her work “Re-framing Memories “. In this work she puts together random scrapes of memory collected from other people’s thoughts and experiences. It comprises four hanging panels each consisting of layered paper, prints, fabric and thread. Their experiences are written on the wall behind the hanging.

Re-framing Memory
Used with permission of the artist

       I usually don’t go back to my childhood memories even though many of those times have been captured in pictures. Thanks to my older sister who took pictures of everything everybody and every place. She literally documented my early years through her lens. Still years later a family member would say, “Do you remember when we did such and such……?” Or “Do you remember this person, this event at such and such a place?”. We save things, cultural artifacts, pictures, diaries, forming memories for understanding life for the tomorrows. We hold on to them sometimes fearful to let them go. Or trapped by our own pain recalling emotional feelings that influence our present day activities.

When I was moving this last month out of my 22 years in my studio and 22 years in my house, I unearthed hundreds of photos stacked in small brown paper boxes or stuffed in dusty roach eaten white envelops. They were in no particular order. I flipped through them picking out familiar photos that meant the most to me.  Do I want to keep these and bring them with me to the next address? Do I look so far back in time and store memories? Are they important now? I saved some, threw them into a  secured box and put in storage for the next move to my new place. Some of these photos I can’t even recall the time, place or event. I wanted to let them go.

I can’t pinpoint one particular memory that influences my work. Often those memories are buried in my subconscious and surface spontaneously as I create. They represent a mixture of good and bad, sour and sweet, and many times the religious and the secular and collide together to make up the inner most part of my being. My past memories are often restored by visual objects seen in present day reality. For instance, the cross section of the majestic Live Oak tree reflects the growth of the tree in changing environments over an extended period of time. The visual of the tree rings is a metaphor of the many memories of my spiritual journey, struggles, and victories that molded my spiritual life. This visual of the tree rings inspired a series of carved wood reliefs (“Source”) and prints reflecting those personal memories. I do remember…… sometimes…….

Wood bock Print

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