I chose the paper cut medium because it serves as a methodical alleviation of stress. As I subtract material to reveal an image, the stress of the day falls to land near the scraps on the floor. Through, this body of work, I aspired to explore the span of time I have no recollection of. These “missing memories” occurred through my mother’s illness and ultimate death from lung and brain cancer in the years between 2003 and 2007. The years in which she was ill have passed and I do not currently have the ability to recall them. My goal is to explore the issues connected to my amnesia of this crucial period of time.
The images that I developed are a compilation of impression I can evoke of her during the course of four years, photographs that have become representative of my time with her, and documents that describe the progression of her illness. These documents include medical files and x-rays.
I assumed starting this project and seeing it to its completion was going to help me uncover memories of my mother, instead I realized pushing the boundaries of my mind has the power to cripple me. The last months have been filled with difficulty concentrating, fatigue, excessive sleeping, and irritability: all when I tried to focus my attention on the project and on the past. During her illness I worked, attended high school, kept our home together. I made it through and am a functioning adult today but the last months have showed me suppressed memories allow me to continue being.
My initial assumption that the memories I am missing are powerful is true. Whether or not uncovering them will propel me towards being a more complete person has yet to be revealed. I still believe the missing memories are important but they are not the only path I need to follow in order to grow as an artist and as a person.
Memories are delicate, can be manipulated, and can be extremely faulty. I view my artistic process as directly correlating to this aspect of memory. I selected the thick arches paper because it’s pleasing to cut and provides a soothing tactile experience as I work. I find the colors cream, black, and light green soothing. The physical act of cutting into the strong sheets of paper, making them more visually interesting while weakening their structure is a fascinating act. I’d wanted to do the same with my memories of my mother during her illness. I have no reservations about why my memory lapsed during my mother’s illness, now. The harboring of these years is what keeps me moving through each day. I wake in the morning and am able to step away from bed without feeling the dreadful pull of emptiness.
Paper Cutout, 24" x 32"
© 2013 Saira Arias, All Rights Reserved