This is a tableau that is based on a mostly blurry memory from my childhood of me wandering a garden that I hold very dear. During the time in which the memory took place, there was a lot of chaos going on in my world, so I tend to associate this memory with a sense of freedom and escape, which is why the piece has such a strong fantastical element to it.
In exercises I’ve done before, including this class’s “I Remember” exercise, I always find myself resorting to this memory when I think about ones that spark joy or made me feel particularly special. The memory is extremely blurry, I don’t know that I could tell you what happened directly before I entered this garden, or even whether it was one particular instance, as opposed to many instances mushed together. Regardless, what I always will remember from it was how I felt, and that for a fraction of a moment I didn’t feel like I had to worry.
The first thing I knew I wanted to do was draw some flowers that reminded me of how I would draw flowers as a child. I heavily associate the colors green and pink with my childhood, so I painted a few tall pink flowers with green stems onto some cardboard. From there, I decided to find photos of children that I liked, and printed them to include them in the piece — I added them to various parts of the cardboard and continued to add little accents and elements that I thought would complete the world I was trying to create (cake, spoon, UFO, tin foil stars, etc.). At a certain point, I was really satisfied with the product and it felt finished.
I found that actively working on this piece brought a lot out for me, consciously or not. It made me think about being a child a lot, but also about who I am currently, and how the instances in my life have come together to make what I know as me. Both of my sisters told me that this piece made them feel a lot too, which I find really beautiful, and one of the main reasons I found it important to create something like this. Separately though, I’ve found that I like to focus on children as subjects in a lot of my work (and general ideas for things I want to make) – there’s something about them that just understand, and I can’t totally describe why I feel that. Often times it seems that children and childhood are associated with innocence, but I personally disagree with that sentiment. Children know a lot more than we give them credit for, and I find them to be a really good vessel for conveying certain things (emotions, issues, feelings, etc.), in terms of making art. Using children as a subject to make a point or evoke a feeling in art just feels really powerful to me for whatever reason, which is why I’m very drawn to the outsider artist Henry Darger, who is also one of the main inspirations for my conference project.