This body of work came out of its materials. It started with yarn. My grandmother is 97 years old and has severe dementia. She spends the limited waking hours of her days working on puzzles, watching game shows, and crocheting chains from balls of yarn because she can’t follow a pattern.
The chains are made of brightly colored soft yarn that my grandmother enjoys handling. Her therapist says working on the chains is good for her hand-eye coordination. But when I see the yarn I feel my grandmother’s frustration at all the things she can’t remember. Mostly I feel sadness for a person who has a whole life that appears to her only in glimpses. As I worked on these pieces, I thought about her confusion, her life, and the memories (good and bad) lost.
Marcel Proust starts his masterpiece (In Search of Lost Time) by asking readers to think of the circular, sometimes broken, way we see memories as we doze in and out of sleep, only sorting things out in a linear way as we wake into ourselves and are finally able to place our location, our time, and our thoughts. I imagine my grandmother’s mind to be somewhat like this half-dream state, a series of impressions that dip in and out of the past, combining her lived worlds.