Louise: 200 portraits of my mom, (penitentes)
199 childhood photographs mounted on masonite, gesso
In my interdisciplinary practice, I explore personal narratives of grief and healing through our psychosomatic relationship to the natural world. My world narrowed after my mother’s cancer diagnosis in 2014 as I became her caregiver. After her death at fifty-six years old, I struggled to connect to myself, others, and the larger world. I slowly recognized that centering my immense grief in my art was my path towards healing. In 2019 I created my first artwork examining grief, “Louise: 200 portraits of my mother (penitentes)”. In this installation of intimate immensity, family photographs covered in white paint cascade down a white wall. Barely visible through the paint, portraits of my mother are revealed and obscured as if fading into memory.
The grief of my mother’s loss surrounds me as this installation surrounds the viewer: empty and blank but quietly filled with reminders of her. Each individual photograph captures a moment, a memory, of my childhood - a time when my mom was healthy and full of life. In painting over the photos and exposing her face with my hands, I uncover deep memories of my mother, seeking to remember her for who she truly was before illness and death took her. As the months and years without her grow, the details of her fade. This installation is a cascade of moments revealed through layers of white paint which obscure the photo’s details as if fading into memory.
Creating this work allowed me to transform the gravity of my grief, clarifying the role of my artistic practice in healing.