My current project, Memories and Demons, involves delving into childhood to examine the demons of early life trauma by creating searing portraits of abuse, using dolls as avatars for children, to shine a spotlight on how devastating these events can be, leaving emotional scars that last a lifetime.
The journey of self awareness begins by examining your childhood and the relationships within your home environment. I was raised in a violent, male dominated household, with physical and emotional abuse a common occurrence for myself, my siblings, and my mother. As the oft quoted saying goes, “the child is the father to the man”, so the key to our adult selves lies in the child inside of us. To understand ourselves, we have to face some ugly truths that may have been buried deep in our memories, memories that are often very painful. The awareness I achieved in examining the traumas of my childhood led me to create this body of work.
Young children are not emotionally equipped to deal with the traumas that can beset them at home: alcoholic parents, divorce, poverty, neglect, physical and verbal abuse, and sadly, sexual abuse. Other children too, can be the cause of traumatic experiences: bullying, being left out and made fun of can all contribute to excruciating situations in our childhood that shape our future selves in negative ways. Anger, insecurity, difficulty with relations ships and drug and alcohol abuse are just a few of the effects of these emotional scars.
My use of older style dolls with cloth bodies made it easier to pose them in a realistic manner, and their cracked and aged faces represent the scarring within. I chose the clothing, props, and minimalist settings to emphasize the story and the smallness of a child’s world. Each doll re- flects the results of the traumatic situation, their faces expressing the fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, and isolation felt by the child. Many of these images are based on my own experiences, others are from stories generously shared with me during my research for this project.
My goal is to engage the viewer on an emotional level and to have them fill in their own story. The larger than life prints draw the viewer in, taking the very small and making them very large to get everyone’s attention. It is easy to forget how fragile children are. I want to make people aware that everything in the child’s environment matters. They see everything and hear everything, and even if they don’t fully understand what is going on, it leaves a lasting memory. Abuse is not understood, they are powerless victims. Childhood traumas cut across all social, economic, and geographic boundaries, and result in damaged adults that are the root cause of many of societies problems. There is a universality to it that makes it everyones concern.