Work > Inhairitance

2020
2020
2020
2020
2020
2020
2020

Displayed at Un/Raveling: a Collective Mourning group show at Harold J Miossi Gallery in San Luis Obispo CA

January-February 2020

Media: knitted brass wire, brass chain, synthetic hair, artist's hair, sea salt

Accompanying text:

Inhairitance

There’s a substantial amount of trauma and darkness in my lineage, particularly along the line that travels through me, my mother, and her father. The three of us have much in common. We’re all sensitive, creative dreamers, we struggle with mental illness and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and we all have the same hair. Having been negatively impacted by ancestral trauma my whole life, this work is an attempt to balance my experience by also accessing the gifts and strengths of my lineage.

My grandfather, Stanley, was a bright, kind, sensitive, creative man with curly, honey-colored hair. His brightness was squelched by his abusive mother and he suffered terrible anxiety and depression. He later fought in the Korean War and came back with PTSD. He didn’t have the resources he needed to heal from these traumas and mental health issues, and he hung himself at the age of 28, when my mother was just 2 years old.

My mother, Leah, is a bright, kind, sensitive, creative woman with long curly, honey-colored hair. After her father died, her mother remarried a terrible man who secretly abused my mother every day from when she was 6 until he died from cancer when my mom was 16. Her brightness was squelched by his abuse. She’s suffered from mental illness, alcoholism, and PTSD her whole life.

I am a bright, kind, sensitive, creative woman with long curly, honey-colored hair. I had a wonderful early childhood, raised by loving parents. At the age of 9, my mother’s mental illness and alcoholism started to take over her life, and subsequently my life. I naively tried to help her by absorbing her pain and trauma, which triggered substantial anxiety and depression in my already susceptible brain chemistry, and I ended up diving into drugs, alcohol, and destructive behavior at the age of 11 to cope with it. This all led to a manifestation in my life of the trauma I absorbed from my mother, which she in turn had absorbed from her father.

In my mid-late teens, I started on a path of healing and recovery. I’ve come a long way and have accomplished so much in my life, both material and immaterial, that I never thought possible for myself. But I still have trouble shaking the old narrative that through inherited trauma and genetics, I’m fated to follow in my mother and grandfather’s footsteps and succumb to mental illness and failure, never fulfilling my potential in life. It’s the strongest, most persistent and damaging narrative in my life. This destructive narrative has always focused on the burdens of my ancestry.

With this work, I’m attempting to focus on the strengths and gifts I have yet to utilize from my ancestors. My mother and grandfather have/had many talents, ambitions, brilliance, and dreams they didn’t utilize because they didn’t find a way out of their suffering and into a place where they could fulfill their potentials. I’ve suffered plenty with this, and now I’m choosing to shift the focus and incorporate their strengths and gifts as well, to carry their unused potential across the finish line for all of us in order to heal myself, my mother, and my grandfather.