Thursday, October 27, 2016

Memory Creating the Self ~ Genetic Memory, and my Paternal Ancestors

We all carry, inside us, 
people who came before us.
~Liam Callanan

Memory Creating the Self:
The Paternal

For anyone who missed my previous posts, or are coming upon this in confusion or unfamiliarity, I have a solo show up in Los Feliz right now, called Memory Creating the Self. 

Here is my artist's statement for the show, if you missed it previously:

We are made of memory; genetic, experimental and body memory. We embody that which has come before us, as well as what we have experienced on our journey here. How much do we hold from our own past that we do not remember?

There are places and people we are linked with forever because they have left their mark on us. What is it that we will imprint on others and what will we leave behind?

My work integrates gold metal leafing, which incorporates memories of Thai temples and Italian altarpieces, from my own experience, as well as some deeper sense memory, that cannot be explained. There is a connection to history and tradition that I feel, as if I have been doing it for centuries.

My dad's parents' portraits are the two on the far left, of the wall photo above (The close up shots of the paintings are in the post of the reception here.)

I hand picked music to play at the reception, and this was one of the songs: 

These first two portraits, here, are wedding photos of my great grandparents, on my dad's side. His  (mostly) German/English paternal side on the left, and his maternal Swedes on the right. They were two of my most challenging paintings, technically, but since I love detail they were also a lot of fun to work on.

While painting my ancestors, I found myself talking to them a lot, as I stared into their faces. What do you think about this, me painting you? Who were you? Oh, I changed that tiny thing and now you look my sister! Or, You look just like my dad! And when I couldn't get the likeness, Ugh! Who are you? Help me out here! 

So I guess, in a way, I was talking to ghosts, or their spirits, occasionally wondering if they were watching over my shoulder.

1896   10 x 10"
Oil on wood panel with gold metal leafing

1905  12 x 9"
Oil on wood with gold metal leafing

See the detail? I destroyed a lot of 000 (the tiniest) brushes working with so much detail, and on the wood. Loved doing the clothes, glasses, glove and the little flowers.

The small 6 x 6" portraits below are of father of the woman in the top portrait, and the Swedish mother of the woman in the bottom wedding portrait. I think I have that right. My sister is the family expert.

If we tried to sink the past beneath our feet, 
be sure the future would not stand.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

1851-1919  6 x 6"

When I begin a painting it's loose and rough, just getting in shapes and some of the values (darks and lights.)

The photograph of Henry Alfred Bray, below, was found by a woman whose hobby it is, to go into antique shops and find old photos. If they have a name and a place and even a date, she goes online and tries to find the family. In this case, she found my sister, who is on 

The dates, the place and name all matched our Ancestor and my sister framed the original for my dad last year for his birthday. What's also incredible was that this man, as it turns out, is buried in the cemetery less than a mile from my sister in Ojai. 

We spent so much time driving up to Ojai when I was a kid, to picnics or just to get out of the fog in Ventura. We never knew he was buried there, or that he had a general store, nor that his wife, my great great grandmother was said to have a millinery shop up there in the little town of Ojai.

Was that the pull we all felt, or why I like to collect hats?

What are the things within us that we carry, perhaps gifted by our DNA, by our ancestors? Is it simply biology or do they pass bits of their experiences, in ways we'll never understand?

Everything you do,
every thought you have,
every word you say 
creates a memory that you will hold in your body.
It's imprinted on you and affects you in subtle ways-
ways you are not always aware of. 
With that in mind, be very conscious and selective.
~Phylicia Rashad

1900   6 x 6" 

My wall of "Ancestral Memory" paintings ...

The past is not dead.
It isn't even past.
~William Faulkner

Blessings and light


donna baker said...

Oh Lucinda, what a thought provoking post. Love the work and do think they are calling to you from somewhere. Primal? I don't know. I also think it is very hard to work smaller, especially with so much detail, when one stroke makes all the difference. And, the song you chose. It is so you. Loved it for this show. How much work must have gone into this show.

Amanda Summer said...

What strong, stalwart and intelligent eyed ancestors you have! I love the borrowing of gold leaf idea from Thai temples and Italian altarpieces.. brava on your beautiful exhibition!

Loree said...

What beautiful painting Lucinda. This post is extremely powerful. I enjoyed it a lot.

Candy said...

Another wonderful post, Lucinda.