In “ashes to ashes,” I focus on work utilizing intimate aspects of the physical body without revealing the actual human form in its entirety examining the meaning of life in the afterlife and the role of the unreliable narrator. Cremated remains, hair, urine, teeth, and heartbeats are all transformed in these photographs, sculptures, sound pieces, and installations.
With the roar of the 2016 presidential election the background, the foreground of my life’s focus shifted when I unexpectedly became the caretaker for my Aunt in the final stage of her life. I also became responsible for sorting through everything she left behind after she died. While going through her life with no explanation of what was actually in her home, I came across a box in a closet marked “kids.” Thinking that it may be photographs of my sister and I (her only nieces as she had no children of her own), I opened the box and discovered many small boxes of her dead animals’ cremated remains. The more I went through the house, the more cremated remains I found: ashes of her brother, unmarked ashes in a ziplock bag, and a box of ashes of a woman no one knows. I decided to use these bodily materials to create a series of photograms that made up a “family portrait” of my Aunt. Using these images as a starting point for this exhibition, I will continued to make work about her referencing the body in things she left behind while at the same time grappling with the limits of my own empathy while caring for someone at the opposite side of the political spectrum in such polarizing times. In these works I use humor and tragedy to create a new way of re-evaluating life, death, and the mythology of one’s own history.