to be forgotten

perhaps the greatest tragedy to befall a human life
all of the joy and love, all of the pain and suffering, all of the memories, all of the contributions, all of the work
erased
as if those experiences never occurred, never meant anything to anyone
how many are there?
the forgotten certainly outnumber the remembered
terrifying
the possibility of living an entire life only to be forgotten

comforted
only in the knowledge that energy inhabits all of us
and
energy
does
not
die

april deacon
Artist Statement for recent works
I collect discarded memories, then reinvent them.

Photographs came first, being the most obvious purveyors of human memory.  These representatives of forgotten memories are quite common in antique stores.  I have boxes of them now and sorting through them I am flooded with emotions.  I am particularly sensitive to the portraits.  Antique photographs reflect the mortality of people and things.  They capture the inevitability and reliability of deterioration that I respect, but that results in an unnatural desire to resurrect them, that I cannot suppress.  The sadness in the realization that these people have been forgotten on some level and the symbols of their memories discarded to be found by me, a stranger, proves overwhelming.  Each image contains secrets and truths.  Influenced by the mood of the photograph, I choose a color palette.  In addition to color, I use shape and pattern, which are informed by the natural contours and existing value contrasts, to transform each subject.  The mosaic-like effect creates a lovely web of contour lines, which in turn implies movement. 

The photographs ultimately led to the acquisition of other personal ephemera and artifacts.  Letters, memo books, legers, coloring books, games, toys, dolls and more have been added to my collection of memories from past lives.  Some of these findings are painted in the same fashion as the portraits, but others become part of imagined histories.  I develop relationships and connections between photographs, letters, newspaper articles, magazine clippings and more, that connect multiple histories and ultimately those histories with issues of the present.  A compilation of previously unrelated artifacts becomes a fictional narrative.  Thus far, my narratives examine such universal subjects as childhood, child-rearing, religion, mental illness, substance abuse, neglect, social expectations, gender norms, and death.   The process involved in creating these pieces is particularly challenging, sometimes even troubling for me.  The issues are very real, the people were at one time very real, their sadness or anger or joy were real too, but I have fictionalized them.  I experience anxiety about whether it is wrong to tamper with other people’s lives, particularly when many of my stories are dark.  But, it is obvious that the desire to create these pieces is greater than the guilt and fear that it poses to my conscience.