A lot of my memory is cued by physical objects. Looking at the surfaces of my artwork, I see everything I thought and felt in the making of them. One sculpture I lost in my ruined studio took me years to make. We had criss-crossed the country four times together. A nine foot tall elephant-woman, she was the physical embodiment of much of my personal history. I grieved for her loss nearly as if she had lived.
After Katrina, piles of broken trees grew forty feet high and many city blocks long. All over New Orleans, there were holes in the sky where trees had been. My drawings of these trees became like post-mortems. Many trees survived though, and they teach me to take the long view.
In the immediate years after Katrina, the effects of stress lingered; we bemoaned our foggy brains. Selecting photographs for this show marked a milestone. I can look back and remember; the grief abates. To bear witness, to remember fully is part of being grateful. Adding my remnants to Vestiges, joining the contributions of many others feels hopeful.
This project belongs to artists Jan Gilbert and Debra Howell. In their words: “VESTIGES/trinitas is about coming to terms with what’s been lost, on both a personal and regional scale, possibly forever. The double whammy of Katrina and the BP spill has made it impossible to ignore the fact that New Orleans and South Louisiana will never be the way they were pre-Katrina, and the people who live here will never have the same lives they once had.
We invite you to submit (recycle) what you miss, has been lost, or has been damaged (physical, emotional, representational, in words, objects, images) to be ‘preserved’ into these sealed 9” x 6” ziplock bags.”
Speaking as one of their many contributors, Jan’s and Debra’s project is like free psychotherapy. They have made a huge wall installation from our many offerings on view at Coastal Carolina University through October 7.