A light breeze ripples through the leaves on the maple outside my window. The air is unusually cool and mercifully quiet. No lawn service, motorcycles or car stereos. The kids down the street aren’t home from school yet leaving the driveway basketball court silent. A male cardinal affectionately feeds his mate. Fat bumble bees wander from bloom to bloom. A sparrow flies headlong into a picture window, breaks its neck and falls dead to the ground. My father’s decay is connected to me in an awareness it’s time for him to leave and I’m going to continue living without him. Rummaging through my hall closet looking for a jacket, I found the MICHIGAN one I bought specifically to go to the football games. The carefully sewn letters in true maize on navy blue resurrect the sensation of sitting in that stadium with my Gramps. I speak out loud, “it’s about you now too, Dad.”
We all arrive, spend some time here, then make room for the new arrivals. When life is being an asshole, which is frequently, we often engage in vain attempts to stop this cycle, to control the uncontrollable. It’s the sweet spots and the hope to generate more that make our life sentence bearable.
Today, there is a global collective migration toward tolerance, compassion and non-violence. The transformation occurs from the inside out. What does the individual transformation look like? Obviously, it’s much easier to witness the external evidence. It represents the internal but doesn’t tell the whole story. I recently visited Rome and its ruin sites. Grand remnants of ages past stand in testimony to power, wealth and innovation. Marble and painted references to the sublime and the godly. In the Forum, where the Senators met to share events of the day, what did they say to each other? What did they argue about? What deals were made? How did the populous respond to their decisions and actions? Did they agree with their representatives? Were they angry? Were they apathetic? How do you quantify the mind and its memories? Its decisions to aspire to its greater self? Where is the soul?
In the video, each participant was asked to record something he said to a lover to get out of a relationship. Each person registers the excavation of past encounters on their face. The viewer relates to the clips by remembering their own experiences. Summoning the mental recordings of our lives. Clips we cherish, and clips we’d prefer to erase. These memories wash over our face. We recognize others’ expressions in ourselves. Left behind is the external residue in a hand-written note, demonstrating the artifact’s inadequacy at communicating the complexity of that moment. Undocumented is the thought process leading to this juncture and all its emotional attachments.
The paintings are abstractions of my recordings. Visual expressions of thoughts about life, death and what comes after death. “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns puzzles the will.” -Hamlet. It’s the best I can do to provide an external illustration of what my mind has been through in the past few years. The endless haunting stories that never go away. The quest to come to peace with my inescapable history. I am fully aware these displays are, like all other attempts to answer the unanswerable, minimal and incomplete. They are, however, true.