My mother died a few days before Christmas last year. She had a long period of the kind of limbo dementia causes and in the last couple of years dialogue wasn’t really possible except between my brothers and I as we recalled every bit of family nostalgia. Since our father had passed away in 1996, thoughts of them both along with other relatives, living and dead, began to swirl around in my head. My youngest brother had dreams filled with dead relatives. We’re not religious people so we processed the partings with reminiscence and appreciation and wine.
I began the series, “The Living,” as something of a tribute or reliquary to essential things learned from my parents and family. In searching for family icons, I quickly realized much of what was most meaningful was botanical. Both sides of our family evolved from farmers. Our grandparents grew huge gardens with strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, and my Father followed suit with impressive gardens of his own, even though he wore a suit and tie to his job every day. Mom channeled her considerable creative energy into an ever evolving array of complex craft projects and wonderful cooking and I spent much of my childhood staring at the sky, mowing the lawn, listening to the leaves rustle and pruning lemon trees.
Constructing sets or tableaux of some type has long been a part of my art practice and I chose to both construct as well as alter environments. The sets were then combined with found and organic elements, which I then photographed. The concept evolved from what I considered to be a very personal insular project to one that embraced larger, more universal gifts of living. In visually exploring my simple surroundings and playing with gravity and stillness and shadow and light, I experienced a profound appreciation of the esthetic magic of nature and its immediate ties to home and memory. I expect I’ll continue working on this series at least through the end of this year.