Inherent Legacy

This current body of work draws stylistically from the practice of Cabinets of Curiosity. Historically these cabinets included objects from natural history, cultural artifacts, relics, works of art, and antiquities. This form of collecting during the Renaissance was the precursor to the modern day museum. In my own cabinet, I am exploring the connections we have to our ancestors and to the natural world. Focusing on family and memory, I am visually exploring what we carry with us through the objects we inherit from previous generations, including genetic, physical and emotional traits. I am revealing the inherent values held by generations past through the lens of my own.

The cabinet is composed of family photographs and objects, along with my own contemporary photographs, which use alternative processes. I began this work by mining family photo albums from the late 19th century.  They revealed images of my great-grandparents and other relatives, whose lives in south central Wisconsin were so different than my own. I look for a glimpse of myself within the familiar faces of my ancestors in these photographs of wedding days, graduations, Army profiles and candid moments on the farm. I see my grandmother as a baby and notice that my father has my great-great grandfather’s ears. To what degree is who we are determined by whom and where we come from?

In my great-grandmother Pearl’s crystal etched wine glasses, I get a glimpse of how she lived and each time I use them I honor her memory. I am deeply interested in legacy, shared memory and also how we forget. What happens to this infused memory, which is placed on objects when no one preserves them? What legacies do we create over time with the memories and objects we pass on through each generation?