Alchemy of Memory
2015 - 2017
When I was about 10 years old, my parents divorced and my mother moved my brother and I from Alaska to Texas. I split my time between my parents, spending every summer and every other winter holiday in Alaska with my dad and his wife. During those long flights from Texas to Alaska, I sat by the plane window and looked down at the landscape. Jagged mountain ranges were like scars, coastlines were boundaries. These physical barriers were metaphors for the division in my family.
When I left for the Peace Corps, I was assigned a host family in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. After two years, I returned to America. That was my hardest goodbye; I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see them again. I watched the landscape from my plane window and realized that my family was divided across not just a continent, but an ocean too.
Alchemy of Memory explores recollections from long ago. Roads paved with nostalgia shimmer forth in my memory, and like alchemy those experiences are transformed into treasure. When these memory maps are layered in paint, a translucency is allowed that mimics the passing of time through locations. Like memory, certain areas are clear while others hazy; Moments and people from the past are either prominent or fade away. Aerial views of important neighborhoods and other locations are preserved, while images deep in the watercolor are less easy to decipher. This process illustrates how events from long ago, though hard to remember, still live in the subconscious and contribute to identity.