If Memory Was a Layer - Statement
The trees-scape portraits in "If Memory Was a Layer" convey ideas about growth, change, and the quest for personal identity. As we journey through life, we shape-shift, trying on new personas as we adapt to each new environment. We age with experience, discarding those parts of ourselves that no longer reflect who we are. The beauty of these transformations emerges from the constancy of learning self-love. In fluid states of being and becoming, we find acceptance in the promise of our own ever-renewing possibilities and our ability to determine our own self-meaning.
My images are loosely inspired by Elizabeth Margaret Hopkins, who wrote her first book, The Painted Cougar, when she was 83 years old, at a time when she was also establishing herself as a watercolourist. The story tells the tale of a cougar who seeks external beauty to get the attention of another cougar he admires. He meets various characters on his quest, including a snake with painted illustrations all over his body. Emulating the snake, the cougar returns to his kingdom, where he is admired, and he soon weds the wife he had coveted. After their wedding, she confides that she has always loved him just as he is, and as she licks away his painted illustrations, he becomes his true, complete self.
The artwork in “If Memory Was a Layer” recalls the cougar’s realization about his own self-worth, as well as Hopkins’s late emergence as a celebrated artist. Their experiences – animal and artist – remind us of the struggles we undertake to shed expectations. Roles are bestowed upon us, but we can choose our own paths, our own voices. We can choose the shapes we take. The play between expectation and self-determination, between experience and transformation, are reflected in my pieces: Each tiny branch, leaf, and piece of bark has been altered through digital painting and collage. The composite images evoke a sense of place. They suggest the comforting knowledge that no matter our present circumstances, we always hold the power and potential to transform. With tranquility and confidence, we can shed our past and emerge as our truest selves.