As a multidisciplinary artist, I have always taken a particular interest in combining traditional and non-tradition artists materials and found objects. For many years, I have worked with materials including various types of paper and fabrics, as well as more unusual materials such as metals, rust, soil and clay, and animal fur. My fascination with these found objects stems from their identity as art both from the designation placed upon them by the artist, but also from the sense that comes with the object. After a death, there are often thousands of physical objects a person leaves behind. What happens to the objects if we make them into art?
In the summer of 2015, my partner and husband of 30 years died after a long battle with cancer. While Mick was a brilliant master carpenter, engineer and inventor, he was also a life-long hoarder of all materials that presented themselves as useful, re-purposeable, or repairable. As an immigrant from Zimbabwe in the 70’s, Mick was used to being forced to make do with what he had. His interest in innovation and creativity grew out of a necessity to survive. When Mick died, there were piles of objects left all over our family home, including hundreds of nautical charts, and a 30’ sailboat, which he hoped to become our new home and travel the world. Although he lived in Florida many years, he never felt at home.
My project, titled What Remains, intends to refine and extend my previous work in found objects and portraiture. Using Mick’s found objects from our home and workshop, I would like to create a series of portraits of Mick on vintage Florida nautical charts, and also create sculptural portraits. Through the portraits, I hope to ‘map’ these feelings of personal and cultural displacement as well as my own feelings of grief after his death. My hope is that this investigation of Mick through objects will demonstrate moments of belonging, as well as displacement. I would also like to think through various notions of ‘home’ with these portraits. I want to know what happens to these spaces after a death? Can objects define a space? What does it mean to take these objects out of context and use them for artistic purposes? My hope is that the portraits will be complicated explorations which will not necessarily provide answers, but will ask important questions about mapping, identity, objects, place and belonging.
Images I included in the What Remains gallery reflects the beginning stage of some of the projected materials I will use of rusted paper, vintage nautical charts, and portraits.