At last, my lighting final is complete.
I envisioned this series last summer, but didn’t get around to it because it was easier said than done. Which is code word for I procrastinated and suddenly I had to go back to school which is where all hopes and dreams shrivel up and die in the folds of texts books.
And, at that time, I only had two images planned. Since I had access to lighting equipment, and since I had a deadline, I chose to do it for my final.
But enough of the back story, here is my artist statement and my images.
“Home Sweet Home” is a self-portrait series about the relationship I have with the house I grew up in. My house was and never will be an ordinary house, as it has been cycling through adverse conditions since I was three years old.
At the age of 3, the ceiling started to leak.
Almost a year later, we discovered that our house was slowly caving in.
At the age of 4, we swung in a steel beam with a crane and jacked the house up, like a car getting new tires.
When I was 8, after years of catching rainwater in buckets in our living room, we decided to rebuild the front of the house.
At the age of 9, we dug up the front porch and broke the main sewage line for the neighborhood- but only after we were approved to dig by the city.
A year later, my father fell off the roof and severed his wrist and broke his hip. While he barely escaped with his life, his left hand will never work the same way again.
At the age of 10, I moved out of my room so my family could finish working on the front of the house.
At the age of 15, the front of the house still was not done and I still did not have a room of my own.
When I was 16, I moved into the downstairs bedroom, formerly my dad’s office.
At the age of 17, the declining economy affected my family.
At the age of 21, the house is incomplete. There are still open ceilings. Power outlets don’t work. The roof still leaks, we have table saws in the place of beds, there are wires instead of curtains.
It may not be much, but it is home sweet home.”
We used to have a garden. While my mother would work on it, I would play in cardboard boxes, pretending they were a house, a rocket ship, anything.
The ceiling has been exposed for as long as I can remember. I would try to hang sheets from the rafters and swing like I was Tarzan. I tried to make a hammock a few times.
We’d always use out shower rod to dry our clothes, since the dryer was broken every other week.
This room was going to be my bedroom, once the house was finished. Ten years after moving out of my room, it’s still a construction site.
I lived in my mother’s room for about five years, from the ages 11-16. I did a lot of growing up in that room, which was half-storage-half-bedroom.
The kitchen table is frequently a mess, as my father runs his small business from it. We’ve learned not to move anything, because if we do, it’s guaranteed to go missing.
In-between the refrigerator and the wall, we store plastic shopping bags to recycle as garbage bags. We’ve had an overabundance of these for all my life, and I’ve wondered if we would ever run out.
In the summertime, my mother would build me blanket forts on our clothes line. We would sit and read inside these tents until the sun went down.
This series, as you might be able to guess, is very personal to me. This is my house. I didn’t do anything to make it look like it does, I only went to each room and made my sets. Sometimes I was embarrassed of my house, since all my friends had normal homes with walls and carpets, with a dining room table meant for eating, with a bedroom of their own to play in. Now that I’m older and I don’t live at home for most of the year, I’m able to take a step back and examine my past in that house. And it was not bad. In fact, if it weren’t for my house, I doubt I would be the creative person I am today. I wouldn’t be as resilient, as thankful, or as diverse. My mother and I made it work.
ANYWAYS onto lighter stuff.
Those boxes? Yeah, called ABC warehouse and they gave them to me.
That hammock? It was a pain to string up. I got a nice arm workout from all the knot making I was doing. Getting in and out of it was no picnic, either.
AND THAT GARBAGE BAG GOWN? My mother is a saint. A sewing saint. I told her what I wanted to do a few weeks ago, when I initially got my final assignment, and she got to work. We ran out of white garbage bags- I guess I proved to my childhood self that getting rid of those things can happen!
I’m happy with my project and I’m on cloud nine. I hope you enjoyed looking in on my life as much as I enjoyed making these images.