The Preservation of Memory

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Created: 04/10/10
Last Edited: 12/04/12
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The Preservation of Memory: A series of handcut paper illustrations depicting childhood memories gathered from interviews, because everyone has a story to tell.
  • For my senior thesis, I chose to interview five people about their childhood memories and then interpreted these memories into framed multi-layered paper cutouts. The layers have space separating each of them, in order to emphasize how fragments of memory come together to create a whole. Following their appearance in a gallery show, each paper cut was given to its respective interviewee.By creating five unique pieces of art for each person’s memory, I aimed to produce a body of work that will serve as a catalyst for reflection, stirring up the memories of my viewers through shared fragments of other people’s memories. Furthermore, by showing that everyone has an important story to tell, I wanted to inspire the interviewed participants to continue sharing their stories with others.

  • After a while, the boom box broke and we were really really upset. We tried to get another one and we kept trying to buy new ones, but none of them would record. We even tried using a tape recorder, but it wasn’t the same because it wasn’t the purple boom box. I guess it sounds weird, but I associate the time after the boom box broke with when I really started to grow up. Because I didn’t do that anymore, I was heading into junior high, my sister was heading into high school and that was like the last hurrah of my childhood. 

    And especially now more than ever, I miss that.

  • I would go to the back booth and do my homework until my mother was finished working and my father cleaned up - you know, shut the restaurant down. And occasionally, well, frequently, I would not understand math. My mom would go to a table, a booth up front that had people with business suits on, because she assumed they’d be smarter. She would ask them if they knew math and say to them, “Could you go back and help my daughter who’s having trouble getting her math done?”
    So then she would escort them, these strange men, back to my booth and I would turn beet red and would have to sit there while these people explained math to me. I didn’t even know how to talk to someone like that because everyone in my world was Greek or working class.

  • Well from very young, from ten years on, I knew I was going to be a ballerina. Dancing, that was all I had in my head. I was so determined that my mother finally gave in. I first worked at a theater where I lived, a small place. Then I got a job in Munich at the opera as a dancer, which was a big thing being very young. 
    So that’s how it was, so long ago. Sometimes I think ... was it a dream or was everything real? Was there a war? I mean how you can survive, I think back now; you don’t think anything when you’re young. You don’t think about anything as seriously as when you’re older.

  • He said, “I have bad news that I have to tell you and then once you hear it, school will be dismissed.” So we were, you know, oh my gosh what could it be? And then it was pretty horrendous. He told us that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. 
    I lived 3 blocks from the school. As I was walking, it started raining, just lightly raining. I was crying, I mean tears were just pouring down my cheeks. The rain was mixing with my tears and I thought how appropriate it was that the sky would be crying too because it was such an awful day for our country. When I got home my mom was sitting on the front porch steps. She came out and hugged me and we stood there crying. 

  • From there, he wanted to take a picture of us posing on top of a ski hill. I’m standing up at the top and he said “You’ve got to bend over a little bit more, to look more authentic you know.” So I bent over a little bit more and started down the hill. The last thing I heard was “Oh my god, it’s the jump.” And it was. I thought ... the best thing I can do is ride this out and do like they do in the movies and jump! And I jumped, but of course I didn’t know how to stop the things either. I headed for the first big snow pile. I’ve always laughed about that. 
    Actually, he did win a prize for the picture where we were on the iceberg. That was my mother’s prized possession for awhile.

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