Work > The Only Way is Through

The Only Way is Through (full installation detail)
Mixed media installation
Variable
2019
Portrait of my mother as an empty bathtub
Plaster, foam, acrylic medium, found objects
2019
Portrait of my mother as an empty bathtub (detail)
Plaster, foam, acrylic medium, found objects
2019
I am getting my mother's spider veins
Wax, foam, pigment, oil paint, steel
2019
I am getting my mother's spider veins (detail)
Wax, foam, pigment, oil paint, steel
2019

The Only Way Is Through is an intersection of grief and heredity as well as an investigation of presence and absence. The pair of feet and the segments of legs are representations of my sibling and me, illustrating how our bodies exist at this moment. We have each inherited traits from our mother explored through these life castings. The bathtub stands in for our mother. It symbolizes the womb that bore my brother and I as well as the place where she bathed us - a nightly ritual teaching us how to care for these bodies. The bathtub is empty and dry; my mother has passed. Her body no longer exists as it once did; she is physically absent but lingers on by surfacing in the features she has given to us.

I have found that working with wax and plaster - the most showcased materials in this exhibition - creates metaphors for the temporal nature of the body. They are in-between materials, steps in the casting process and not typically the final product. The works you see are fragile and temperamental. Even with sensitive care, these pieces will eventually break down and degrade, just as our bodies do.

The title of the exhibition also refers to the conditions under which the viewer is to interact with the gallery space. It is possible to move between the temporary walls and the structural walls to the other side, but the most comfortable way is through the work witnessing how it functions. Losing a parent is one of the closest things we have to a universal human experience, and in this space, the viewer is urged to empathize.

You still live with the one you lose. My mother's shadow is everywhere. In learning to live with a loss, you realize that person is much more a part of you than you had ever known before. She taught you the mundane. She taught you how to make the bed, she taught you how to scramble an egg, and she taught you how to tie your shoes. We can try to circumvent this inevitable grief, but in reality, the only way is through.