On the eve of summer, a little girl took a walk. The sky was alight with a strange cloud, and she came upon a talisman, who showed her where the darkness was, and how to eat it. The road became dark and confusing. There was no one around, no voices or chittering, and in the silence there was an eerie peace. The darkness in her belly beckoned her forward, and she arrived at a place to rest. She dreamed of amorphous beings with no faces, alarming and terrible, for their masks were heartbreaking. They told her to continue on the road. She met other children on her travels, and collected their souls in a little basket. When she reached the river, she released all of the darkness and all of the souls, to become stars.
This series of oil pastels were made while looking through childhood photographs, and sitting in a dark emotional space. Some of the time periods are filled with sadness for the children, and sometimes the adults, as the knowledge of hindsight and the understanding of intergenerational trauma unfolds over the years of these memories. I’ve spent time trying to make sense of the smiling faces and the memories that I have of those times. It’s like a fiction that was meant to be pushed forward into the future. When I sit down to make work in response to those confusing feelings and visuals, these dark shapes appear, lone children in large empty landscapes, nondescript storybook places.
Who sees these children? Who reaches out to them with empathy and compassion? Who tells them that they deserve a gentle space? Maybe I’m trying to make sense of the past, or create images that reconcile the physical memorabilia with the lived experience. Maybe I’m setting them free, not in a made-up world of false facades, but in the real world of their existence; confusing, unsettling, but acknowledged.