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Friday, June 23, 2006

Studio Friday: Family

Family in my studio
Studio Friday

"Family history, things that have been passed down from one family member to the next, family values, all influence me as an artist, whether I'm consciously aware of it or not.I wonder how others are influenced or inspired by their families---either past or present. What family treasures might be found in others' studios?"

In my studio is an old family album from my father's side of the family. It is filled with images of people who are anonymous strangers to me. They are all gone from this Earth, but their spirits remain alive in my studio. I look into their eyes, gaze at their faces, and wonder who they were, what they did, how we are connected.

The photo above is the only one in the album that has notation on the back: "Mary Cleveland. I am 16 here." Mary was evidently someone of importance to the person who kept the album; there are many photos of her. In one, she is holding a baby, with the word "mother" written on the back. Was it the photo Mary had earmarked for her mother? Or was that written by Mary's child at a later time? I will never know the answer to that question.

Mary, the mystery of her, inspires me. We are connected, not just by genes, but by the spirit that flows from one to another. Mary, and the album filled with images of anonymous strangers, reminds me that I am a link in the chain that comes from, and leads to, places I don't know. Those anonymous strangers helped create and influence who I am, and who I am will influence those who will come long after I'm gone.

Family.........I am part of its creation.



Blogger firstborn studio said...

absolutely inspiring,ellen!
your words are so eloquently written...mary cleveland would be proud!
love u,

9:02 AM  
Blogger Going For Greatness said...

What an awesome entry for today! Thanks for your inspiration! I have some photos that have been passed down too, fortunately, my grandmother (paternal) is the family historian and she knows all the info about the people in the photos. We're lucky that she wrote all of it down and has shared it with us. I think you'll unlock the mystery of Mary Cleveland someday. There is a huge database of geneaology just waiting for you to step into it!! Good luck and let us know if you do find out more about her!!!
Thanks for sharing! Have a gorgeous weekend!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

A beautifully written piece. I am such a collector of old family photos, and luckily have many from both sides of my family; most of them I can identify. I wrote about one of my great-grandmothers and a mystery about her on my blog a few months ago.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I love that you left me a comment about eyes, your picture is of your eyes and then you spoke of looking in to the eyes of family member's photos. The eyes have it! The photograph of Mary is stunning. Will some one look at old oictures of us one day and wonder???

6:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Lovely post, Ellen. I have only seen your eyes, but they look amazingly like Mary's.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Kim Carney said...

That is so powerful! Beautiful!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Pamela said...

What a nice post, Ellen.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Cassandra Russell said...

I love the idea of our past family having an influence on who we are today. equally intriguing is how we will will affect those lives of tommorrow. It is a romantic place to be, nestled in this circle of family life.

10:51 PM  
Blogger DEW said...

Just wonderful Ellen! You're a multi-talented lady with your images and your words. I also love thinking about stories behind pictures and also the land. We walk our farm and try to "listen" to what the land is telling us. We'll walk through heavy forest and find an overgrown "clearing" with very old apples trees that had been planted decades ago. Or stone walls that may have marked the edge of the field or side of a house. What feet have walked this way and what hands planted the trees and made the walls? Thank you so much for nudging us to reflect on life with your work! Take care.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Tracie said...

That is definitely something I hold near and dear to my heart... old family photos. Those or some I know by site but definitely not by actually knowing them. Then there are plenty of strangers. You have reminded me that I really need to have my grandmother write down names before she forgets or passes and they are gone, as you say, forever! Great Blog!!

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Hanne said...

What a beautiful face - when I saw her I actually thought I was now going to read about your garandmother ...

I have a lot of old photoes I´ve got from my grandparents and it´s the same problem: I don´t know who they are. Maybe I was told once when I was younger, but at that time I wasn´t really interested... sorry to admit it...

1:40 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I adore this photo! Wow so many stories.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Becca Parson said...

What a wonderful treasure you have there. I was moved by your words - this reminds me a great deal of experiences I have had in art museums. When I am there I feel as though there are ghosts all around me. The makers of all these beautiful things and all those who have seen these images and sculptures before are moving all around me. Sometimes I almost feel I can hear them whispering to me. I'm connected to an amazing tradition of creation.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Beautiful picture and beautiful post Ellen. You greatly honor your "family."

9:06 PM  

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