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BFA Solo Exhibition: EARLY ONSET 3/24/19 – 3/30/19 W540 Visual Arts Building, Iowa City

Early Onset

She set my chair up next to her as she worked and lifted me from the ground where I lived onto the pedestal where she kept me.

She knows everything but doesn’t remember anymore.

It is in our blood. It is tugging at the seams of our beings and unraveling our complexities.

She is an artist – practicing no longer – yet still humming the melodies.

Early Onset is a collection of work tied closely to lineage, motherhood, agriculture, and rural nostalgia. My grandmother no longer lives on the farm she inherited, leaving behind loose fabrics from which she used to work. Those fibers form the bones of this body of work.

My grandmother and her mother before her were both affected by Alzheimer’s. With each passing year, I fade into another half-familiar stranger, along with the rest of what she loves.  Though we are unable to finish our sewing lessons, I am still learning from her through my mother.

As I watch my own mother lose access to hers, the strength and guidance she provides inspires me to create work about hope rather than loss. Lending new life to the material my grandmother left behind, I tear, collage, stitch, paint, and manipulate the fabric to represent both the brevity and confusion of Alzheimer’s. Drawing on childhood memories, stories, and photographs, I construct memory’s abstract spaces and their interactions with physical locations.

The disease caught my grandmother before I was old enough to understand. Knowing I never experienced her full vibrancy, this work is an exploration of how she lived and worked. Inheriting skills from a lineage of strong craftswomen has brought comfort and a method of continuation despite the destruction of memory loss.

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