About Your Knick-knacks, mixed media installation, 26 x 6 ft., UNI Gallery of Art, 2014.
My decisions in life are constantly negotiated by a desire to be stable and connected or to have the freedom to break away and gain new experiences. Whether it’s to start a family, keep in touch with others, return to my hometown, be domestic, or practice organized religion; the things that are expected of me often feel comfortable, which I constantly feel the need to question. Hair and wallpaper act as important symbols for the tension between my different desires.
As a child, I would explore the abandoned houses near the farm I grew up on. Fascinated by them my whole life, I recently started collecting pieces of wallpaper from the empty living rooms, bedrooms
and closets. Some I found beautiful and others kitschy, but all were important clues to the former families who lived there. The fragile layers of paper revealed discoveries of pattern, color, and texture – representing the years and tastes of the people who selected it.
Before the last century, it was common for friends, family and lovers to exchange locks of hair as symbols of their connection to one another. Keeping hair was especially popular during the 19th century, and the fad was later coined ‘Victorian hair art’. Hair wreaths were made by women to record genealogies and displayed in the home. Touching someone else’s hair is possibly one of the most intimate acts one can engage in, whether it’s attached to the body or not. Today when we are separated from our loved ones, we have the ability to transcend time and space through mass communication. Despite its convenience, I find there is a loss of physicality and true closeness that once existed.
Just as hair and wallpaper can defy decay, the things we do and say in the home don’t completely leave us or the place in which they happen. Personal histories may be forgotten, but they live on in other manifestations. Through my work, I hope to bring attention to the ways we connect with people from the past and present, and consider which ways are timeless versus others that are specific to the present.