In my work, Decomposing Quilt, many generations of my ancestors are represented. The materials that I gathered for this work are site specific to my ancestor’s birth or death place. The flowers, leaves, seeds, seaweed, soil, and moss were made into sheets of organic fabric, by combining them with a binder and then dehydrating them into a workable material. These were then sewn into quilt squares and placed into a specially made, sealed photo stand. They were then filmed decomposing on the very soil from which they sprang. The individual quilt square videos were each put on a loop of decomposition and recomposition, moving back and forth between vibrant colors of flowers and plants to clouds of white and taupe mold. All of the filmed quilt squares were then compiled together into a patchwork collage video. The combination of quilt squares, decomposing at different rates gives the impression that the quilt almost breathes as a result of them returning to the earth.
Those ancestors that were part of the westward expansion of the United States were always on the move, nonetheless, there is still a record within those lands of my past. My father’s family history has been well documented over many generations. I am grateful for the legacy that they have passed onto me, but that is not the whole story of where I come from. Much of mother’s family history has been a mystery. The stories are not well preserved and there are many gaps in the information. Although I have been told many stories of my heritage on my father’s side, the ancestors on my mother’s side have impacted who I am through their choices as well. I will never know all the influences for good or bad that my ancestors have done, but I am a product of their lives. I have been shaped by all of them, even if I am unaware of them.
In acknowledging my ancestor’s role in the history of the land, it is important to recognize that I am not proposing a definitive history of any place or person. Woven within the land are many histories, and it is important to recognize the validity of each of these. My family history contains both elements of great heroism and faith, and terrible tragedy and offenses that have affected not only myself, but the communities that they have lived in. Their impact has left lasting traces in the landscape that I must sift through to understand. But this is also a symptom and characteristic of the whole human race.