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.”
Bloodline: The Matriarchs
Cedar, Bronze, Patina, and Steel
Collection of Virginia Museum of Fine Art, 200 N. Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
- Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond VA (August 19-November 26, 2017)
- Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present, Taubman Museum, Roanoke, Virginia (September 28 – January 6, 2018)
- Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia (Feb 17 – July 22, 2018)