Family Matters incorporates memory, metaphor and allegory to express the challenges, burdens and joys of my role as daughter, and now caretaker, of my elderly parents. My mother and father recently faced a daunting move into assisted living; they are struggling after a series of strokes, memory loss and the decline of their cognitive abilities. This series uses objects gathered from the family home to tell the story of my role within this family.
After moving my 86 year-old father and my 91 year-old mother into an assisted living apartment, I began organizing the contents of their home. When they left, they walked out the front door of their home of 36 years, with barely a glance behind them, leaving unopened mail on the table, and me behind, to sort through the chaos. Over the months, I returned to make the final selection of which treasures I would keep, and to tie up all the loose ends before putting the home on the market.
Family Matters uses objects from their home, and my childhood, staged as still lifes, to illustrate the story of our relationship. Using childhood possessions, and simple items that have been in the family for years, I create tableaus that hint at complicated family dynamics. The presentation of these objects is not merely a catalog of possessions, but a catalog of feelings; of pain and disappointment, hope, loss and burden.
The challenge of assisting parents who live 1000 miles away has changed my life drastically. Working through these feelings in this project has helped me unravel, and resolve, many issues that I was unable to confront about our past. Though seeing my parents age and decline is difficult, I feel I have been given a gift to be able to be a significant part of this transition.