The works in “All About Her,” are part of a larger life’s work I call “The Passport Project,” where I use the objects, passports, as a metaphor for my search for stories in people’s lives. This exhibit was developed from 20 years of research and a draft manuscript I began when my mother died in 1998. During the pandemic year, 2020 to 2021, I revisited my collections and notes and time-traveled through nostalgia and memories.
It’s about the life of a singular woman told through her passports. There are visa stamps over the years but there are also many stories, milestones and events that happened to her during those years. I abstracted from my collection of photographs, letters and documents the flawed life of a complicated woman who was my mother.
My two collages overlay found photographs and documents. They are the book ends that begin and end the series of works in “All About Her.” The first collage, “Sugar Babies,” is my mother at the age of nine on her first trip abroad. The second and ending collage, “Where Is the Love,” is my collection of personal notes, letters and one of my favorite photographs of Elena. Underneath it, I have buried my last letter.
The seven artist books are based on my mother’s nine original passports. I used a book-like structure of turning pages as a starting point. The visa stamp dates provided the timeline and so I matched my archives and research to those dates. The book structures conceal, reveal, unfold, and refold back to the ordinary pages of her passports. Her complicated, three-dimensional life is behind those pages. There are seven volumes in “All About Her.”
I want you, the viewer, to interact with the structures, to unfold and learn the events behind the dates, the life behind the visa stamps, my curated memories and selective recall. I wanted my memories and stories to be physical, for you to hold the weight and size of Elena’s life in your hands and spend some time with her.
Click on the slideshow to learn more.