Childhood Memory

For this project, I invited mychildhood self to look deep into the shadows of my mind and try to dust off the cobwebs and pick the lock off the chest containing my most sacred and haunting memories. When I first started this project, I did not remember my early childhood. Instead, I remembered the stories that were read to me. At first, My project appeared to exist only in the thick of my murky imagination. I needed a proper dialogue. I realized that in order to truly convey the impact thesefairytales had on me in childhood, I needed to remember who and where I was in childhood.

I remembered I was isolated. I remembered I was small. I remember I was abandoned. I remember I was so young and felt so incomplete. I remembered I was the only student in my kindergarten class who had divorced parents.

When I read fairytales, I understood the land far far away, and the lonesome outcasts within it. I wanted to convey this feeling of cohesion between the fantasy realm and the mundane world by combining unconventional images of fairytale symbols, pictures of myself in childhood and early teenage years, Victorian children’s book illustrations and the analysis of fairytales by child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim.

The gingerbread house is from the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. I did not want to have the gingerbread house be the main focus of the piece. However, as I continued to work, the more essential it became. I wanted the gingerbread house to be at a child’s level and look as though it was created by a child’s hand. I did not look at source material for the house as I began to draw it, because I wanted to identify what I would be afraid of and enticed by. I drew the house in layers of red and purple, each layer had something new to offer. Then, I obscured over the entire creation with canvas colored paint. On the roof I slathered on Bruno Bettelheim’s idea of what the significance of the gingerbread house may have been. As I created, and as I looked at it as a finished piece, it certainly had a deep significance to me, but I, like Hansel and Gretel, may never be able to understand its true meaning.

I was influenced Rauchenberg’s horizontal line that appears in some of his artwork. It is almost invisible, but it lays out a path for the viewer’s eyes to follow and can serve as a break from the tension. I created the suggestion of a horizontal line with the images of skeleton feet. The image is supposed to resemble the myth of Oedipus, the son-king, who was cast away by his father after a divine prophecy revealed he would one day surpass his father as ruler. The feet resemble young Oedipus’ ankles that Laius pierced.

To control the flow of my artwork, I wanted to combine circular and angular vertical imagery and paint splatters surrounding the horizontal line. While each picture and individual marking is relatively small in relation to the entirety of the canvas, and the large gingerbread house, my goal was to have each component of my project speak to the other. This was to further enhance the idea of memory being fluid, rather than something that is ordinal. This was also done so that the blank space complements the artwork, rather than leaving it feeling obsolete.


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