Tender Fragments of Woe | Encaustic mixed media assemblage | 48″ x 48″ | 2012

This work began with collecting birch bark in memory of a beloved cottage I lost when my dad died. Over the months that I laboured on this work, a poetic series of events unfolded, the first of which was the day my daughter ran in the door with a remarkable green caterpillar she held breathlessly in her dusty little hands.

The excitement of watching it spin its cocoon in a jar waned with its very long gestation, and I became perplexed that we had interrupted its life cycle. But with its astonishing emergence six months later, we learned that, had it not mistaken the warmth of our home for the dawning of spring, its gestation would have been three months longer. 

Our research told us that this was a female Cecropia moth, known for her gorgeous markings, her 6-inch wing span, and, due to her having no mouth, her brief life span. Though we marvelled at her nocturnal activity emitting pheromones, and at her stillness during the day, I was moved by the pathos of her futile effort to attract a mate, and her 200 unfertilized eggs. And I was mystified that her silent decline coincided with my grandmother’s death. 

And so, this work became a tender opus of gathering together fragments of woe – birch bark memories of the cottage, the moth and her eggs, handwritten notes from my departed parents, everyday objects from my childhood, necklaces from my late Auntie Yvonne, and emblems of my African and Kalinago ancestors.

 

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