As I discussed in my casual discussion with Don about the Words of Traitors project, I let myself be led by my subconscious as much as was possible during the creative process. That doesn’t mean that any of it was incidental. Now that the 4th art show for this book is wrapped up, I thought I’d share some of these secret tidbits. Hopefully that’s something you might be interested in.
In the largest collage that I made for this book—the one with the infamous cow-heart—I incorporated many painful memories. The hope was that this would be more cathartic, and more meaningful, than simply burning them. I don’t know if that wound up being the case or not.
The last letter that my dad wrote me mirrored all the other messages I’d ever received from him—big promises, no follow-through. He disappeared after that letter, and I didn’t hear from him again until I discovered he’d died of leukemia. This is a pattern with many of the other letters I glued into the background, as it’s been a re-occurring pattern, people writing checks with their mouth or heart that their hands can’t make good on. The letter from my dad was cut up to fit inside a heart that an ex-lover sent me a mix-CD in.
Most of my life I’ve had a dream of being a part of an intentional family that was bonded through love and trust. Many times it’s started to form and every time it shattered through the same kind of all-too-typical mis-communication, mis-alignment of intention, or outright backstabbing, talking behind people’s back, etc etc. So I selected the letters and pictures to be used in this particular piece that fit best with that wish. I wanted to try to make a break with it on some level, and acknowledge that it couldn’t ever happen. Hope is what gets us in the end, not the opposite.
I’ve talked a bit about why I used the cow-heart in the piece. I had snapped awake from a vivid dream where my heart was connected by copper wire to all of these memory fragments. There are folk-tales in many cultures of demons or spirits that want our heart so as to come entirely into this world. These demons are often tricked by giving them something that is supposed to be our heart, but isnt. A bag of pebbles, of ash. Or in this case, a cow heart. I traded hearts with the cow, and gave the poor beast my past.
That’s an analogy for the entire Words of Traitors project. The traitors are our memories.
Included in this piece also was a rose encased in glass — my grandmothers — and a scorpion similarly entombed, that I picked up from an Indian in the desert shortly after my first divorce.
I can’t say that giving my memories to others has rid me of their sharp edge. But it was an interesting project.
It has been almost a year to the day since I began this project. I think it’s time to end it, keeping the final token (the book itself) available for those that want to join in.