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Home, 2016, embroidery floss, found fabric, frames, acrylic paint, muslin

This project began as an exploration of changes occurring within my family over time as I grow accustomed to living outside my parents’ house and as I build a life outside my home state. This physical separation affects my relationships to various members of my extended and immediate family as well as my role in my family. This is especially pertinent as I experience the very recent loss of my grandfather, as well as the death of my childhood dog. It is inevitable that voids are formed in a family when a member passes away; but while I am physically separated from my family I can only partially comprehend or process these voids, something that has greatly affected my experience of grief.

In this piece I use my mother’s hand-written directions to my grandparents’ house that she wrote out for my siblings and me a month prior to our grandfather’s passing. The directions serve as a physical example of the emotional guidance and support she provides—a support that I still heavily rely on, despite our distance from one another.

The embroidery as well as the display signify domesticity, the family home, and a documentation of family life. Family photographs serve to simultaneously celebrate and document a family’s life, as they display the lives of past members, special events, and childhood growth through school pictures. The directions, meaningful perhaps only to me, are evidence of this particular moment in my life, one of change and confusion, that I wish to document. The cold, factual nature of the directions are juxtaposed to the comforting embroidered fabric and the familiar pattern of pink and red houses that decorate the backdrop. This backdrop, in its repetitive silhouette of a colonial-style house, is meant signify a particular space: a family home of a certain socioeconomic situation and geography; a rural or suburban setting, for example, as opposed to a small apartment in a large city. (During critique, it was suggested that this backdrop be remade as wallpaper, perhaps a more fitting signifier of the home).

I hope this piece leads viewers to consider what they hold onto and what they display in their family home and why. What is important in telling a family’s story? And how does the individual’s experience operate within a familial context?

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