Death is a Place: What My Aunts Passing Has Taught Me About My Art




  1. 1.

    a particular position or point in space.

    "there were still some remote places in the world"


  2. 2.

    a portion of space available or designated for or being used by someone.

    "they hurried to their places at the table"


    "a place was reserved for her"

Nancy's Trailer 2017

Nancy's Trailer 2017

I am attached to place. It is the central theme in my work and something I am extremely passionate about. I love giving spaces a personality.  As a Cancer I am a natural nester.  That natural tendency spills over into to my work.  I make work to change sterile places into a new world. To say I am obsessed with place making would not be an overstatement. 

Therefor it seems quite normal that in the wake of my Aunts death last week I cannot help but be stuck in a certain place. I have been working through painting after painting in search of the feeling of a very particular memory about a very particular place. 

My aunt was homeless for an extensive period of her adult life. To go into this would be an entire blog post on its own however I want to focus on one of the places she lived during that time. She lived in a tiny trailer in the parking lot of a church. Since she passed I cannot stop thinking about that little trailer. It was strangely magical. She had gone to the effort to make it feel bright and alive. I remember as a teenager being taken with the hanging tapestries and bright colors. The memory of it has so impacted me that I cannot stop thinking about it. 

I realize now after I have finally put that place down on paper, that it inspired me because so much of her best qualities were present there. She was an incredibly talented crafter and artist. She had true vision.  She could make almost anything beautiful and during her children's young childhood made incredibly beautiful matching outfits for them. She loved endlessly. In spite of unspeakable traumas, addiction and mental health struggles she never failed to tell you she loved you.  She was the resident beautician. Every prom I went to she did my hair.  Every child was her own and was treated like instant family.  What I found today in my studio is that the brightly decorated trailer I cannot get out of my mind,  expressed her light. As a Painter,  I am always trying to record place but I am also always trying to capture the light.