Bloodline: The Matriarchs
Cedar, Bronze, Patina and Steel
Collection of Virgina Museum of Fine Art, 200 N. Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
“It is the stories of family, history, and identity that brought me to “Bloodline”. It is a long trail of my Native American history, my bloodline. To be ‘on the Rolls’ as an American Indian you must prove a quantum of blood verified through birth and death records until you match up to a name on the official “Dawes Rolls.” As I began walking through the past to document my blood, with the names and some faces, I wanted to hear them speak and tell their story. I wanted them to be counted.
The figures walk across a cedar tree base that is cut lengthwise exposing the rough center revealing the lines that show its life and history. Growing up, my mother would use cedar to purify our home, release spirits, and chase away bad dreams. That smell for me is home. I de-barked the exterior but kept the curve of the tree and its raw surface. You see the figures walking through time—their life above and the tree’s life below.
The Cigar Figures come from a childhood Native American story that my mother told of the “Stick People.” The “Stick People” would run through the night and call your name; if you went with them, you were never heard from again. She never described the figures and I was always drawn to the idea of what they looked like. The Cigar Figures are my reimagining of that story, now a story of family and my past—a complicated narrative of loss, survival, and resilience. The figures are made from real cigars and found sticks cast in bronze. The faces are of the ancestors from my past as far back as I can trace.
There are sections for each generation, beginning with my children. Though I only have two, there are five figures. Each life is counted and the children who did not survive are remembered with a place on the wood in history; their forms small and their heads bowed. Next, I have my section with my sisters and brother followed by my mother’s history. When hung, the light casts a shadow of the figures on the wall. This shadow represents memory for me. Like a shadow, these memories cannot be held, and in the end, we are all only a shadow in history, shadows on this earth.”