In my work, I often portray memory as something evoked by triggers that cannot be articulated simply as a "story". Memory occurs in muddied layers, levels, and pieces, and is metamorphosed according to what one chooses to remember at a particular moment in time about past events. A Childhood, illustrates memory in this manner.
The first layer is from my perspective as an adult woman and the artist creating the piece and recalling my childhood in Mexico. That recollection quickens the second level—that of the child looking at a magical and vibrantly colored world. Hence the surreal, warm, and brightly colored Mexican landscape painted on the door.
The third layer, within the box, is from the perspective of the little girl taking the form of her first doll and reliving her childhood in Mexico. It is within this realm that memory becomes tactile and the child comes to life by turning the handle and propelling her wind chime legs.
And finally, the fourth layer is that of the girl with a fixed gaze, looking straight ahead from the past to the future at a different land (the image on inside panel of the door) and through the porthole-like viewer at her own reflection as an adult woman.
So many thanks to my brother, Horacio F. Acevedo (Chito) for his highly skilled assistance with the hardware of this piece.
The following is a poem I wrote as I was creating the assemblage shown below called Intangible Sweetness. The poem is included in the background of this mixed media piece.
Big girl face,
little girl soul
Wallowing in distant sadness.
Muted mauve mist,
dingy dustless tomb
burying her dolls and innocence.
Big girl face,
little girl soul
searching for intangible sweetness.
Hazy glass pipe
crystal rock candy
forgetting–for a fleeting hour.
Intangible Sweetness was inspired by the tragic story of a woman, and the phrase, "while visions of sugarplums danced through their heads" from The Night Before Christmas.
The doll head represents a woman, who as a child, was sexually and physically abused by her father. Additionally, the head is disembodied to symbolize a break from reality brought on by the abuse. The candy mobile above her head is the "vision of sugarplums dancing through her head". The candy-like pieces are the crack crystals—her addiction, and her desire to attain some semblance of childlike innocence, tenderness—sweetness, which is clearly, intangible.
The viewfinder is reversed to illustrate the audience's distant and detached perspective of the subject. It slides up and down the entire left side of the piece so that one can see the other elements of her environment—her unfortunate life in the same manner.
The woman is now in her early to mid 40s, her children were put in foster care when she was incarcerated as a result of terrible choices made as an addict. She remains in a state prison, and while certainly, one could argue that her life is a result of the choices she made as an adult, one could also point out that she didn't stand a chance. I think that her character, her soul, her spirit was severely damaged at an early age, thanks to her father's repeated sexual abuse, her mother's neglect, and perhaps even, complicity.
I've lost contact with her. I don't know when she'll get out of prison, nor do I know that she'll have the ability to change her life when she is finally released. When I last saw her, I felt so much sadness and pain for her – she appeared childlike, yet her face had aged incredibly. Her sweet, innocent smile was overpowered by her rotting and missing teeth. I pray that she receive the strength she needs to confront the two monsters who damaged her – the two monsters, she calls "father" and "mother".
Thanks to my brother, Horacio F. Acevedo, for helping me with the hardware on this piece. I could not have done it without him.