An ongoing series of pencil drawings depicting members in my family.
“Adrift” (pencil, 10.5 x 9 in)
“Dinner” (pencil, 11.5 x 11.5 in)
“Portrait of David” (pencil, 12 x 10.5 in)
“Edna Ellen Hanninen” (pencil, 8 x 10 in)
“Mom (Child Portrait) II” (pencil, 5 x 7.5 in)
“Mom (Child Portrait) I” (pencil, 7 x 9.5 in)
“Mom (Child Portrait) III” (pencil, 9 x 11.5 in)
“Meryl” (pencil, 7 x 10.25 in)
“Crying” (pencil, 8.5 x 12 in)
“Girl/Bird” (pencil, 5.25 x 10 in)
“Tricycling” (pencil, 10 x 12 in)
When viewing family photographs from previous generations, I am struck by how much they both reveal and hide about the family they are depicting. They document family members exactly as they appeared in a moment and, yet, only hint at their thoughts and feelings. When I view photographs of my family, I find myself reaching to see more. I search for meaning in my family members’ body language and the environments they inhabit, trying to see into the hidden part of their lives.
My family photographs are small, most 3 by 3 inch squares, and damaged, many having been bent and ripped. Their physical state seems to mimic what they depict: a family with a multi-generational history of substance addiction, mental illness, and neglect. Having been impacted by this history, I seek to reconcile with it by creating realistic pencil drawings of my family members. I use my imagination in addition to referencing my family photographs to depict them in detailed, emotionally rich scenes, giving light to their lives.
Ultimately, the drawings act as updated family photographs, each a physical reworking of the past, of generational wounds being acknowledged, processed, and released.