2016 & 2017 > Family Wreath

Family Wreath
Muslin, ground medium, ink, dowels, shelf, paper, dirt
2017

Family Wreath
Muslin, ground medium, ink, dowels, shelf, paper, dirt
2017

A looped scroll of selections of my great-grandmother Mable's poetry. People are encouraged to place their hands in the provided dirt and pull the scroll to read. Throughout the transcription, a string of stain-like shapes depict the negative space within lowercase letters, which morph into their uppercase versions in the subsequent poems.

The baby girl referred to in the repeated poem "My Baby" is Mable's daughter Marjorie. Starting when she was a teenager, Marjorie suffered from Bipolar disorder, and as an adult she abused her daughter: my mother. This sad, confusing truth - that a loved baby can become a traumatizing mother - was the catalyst for Family Wreath. Trauma operates in cycles, and though the suffering each woman in my family experiences is different, it's the same pattern: mother's distress affects child, child becomes a mother.

The poem which ends at the one seam of the scroll, "Transition", describes a cosmic sense of familiarity: "On what far plane have our souls met/Before we knew our present form?" In this context, it speaks to a fated, centuries-old pattern of suffering and love between mothers and daughters.

Exhibited at St. Charles Projects, Baltimore, May 2017