A Collection of Heirlooms

A Collection of Heirlooms

When my grandfather passed away some of his belongings were reunited with some of my grandmother’s items–only this time under my care, the new owner. It can be strange how things disperse and then reconvene. Some of the items in the collection were acquired during my grandfather’s estate sale, while other items were passed down from family members. I selected, curated, maintain and arrange them like a miniature museum.

Working with the expanded field of documentary, this project is an excavation of materials––a collection of heirlooms with stories surrounding my paternal grandparents of Mattoon, Illinois. Their generation is almost gone and I wanted to learn about them, document the process, and preserve something that references their histories and their generation.

In the process of working with this material I learn that I can’t be objective. My own memories are embedded in the very stories I create about their stories. To make things more complex, when I ask my grandfather his account––on camera––I notice the lens changes the dynamic, like he’s suddenly performing the truth, rather than just being himself. So–what do I really know?

These items are indexical portraits–readymade works of art. Imbued with the active memories of Madge and EC Bauer, they are launchpads to stories I learned while researching my paternal grandparents’ history. I share these discoveries in a hybrid documentary (still in process) called Made in Mattoon. See a clip of the film at the bottom of this page.