http://sarahsense.com/

Grandmother's Stories

 

Doolough Trail

 

Like photographs, stories are a recorded history, merging time and memory repeatedly both orally and visually. These works from "Grandmother's Stories" focus on history of family and the placement of self in a community and as an outsider. An architect once told me, “always be an outsider,” I thought that this was his way of understanding international socio-political circumstance when creating community dwellings. I understand it now as a way to think differently, to understand something that may not be within reach emotionally. My journey in the last five years has lead me through thirty-five counties, originating as a means to learn of international Indigenous arts. It was a bold and at times lonely path, but as my steady determination to meet Native artists and learn though my own “field-search” about constructs of colonization in the Americas, I began to live the art. Life changed constantly and the one thing that remained the most consistent was family and land. Going home was unlike any other joy in my life, except for engaging with nature. Trekking and diving became an inspiration for creating and living, and photography became a record of beauty in the landscapes that I encountered. My weaving practice which begun with Chitimacha reservation landscapes (2004), evolved into interpretations of Hollywood appropriation of the Native experience, most simply explained, the real with the fake, most accurately explored with my personas of the Cowgirl and Indian Princess. Such images were also intermixed with familial archives and movie poster, commenting on reality and misconceptions of idealizing culture. As my travels began, landscapes grew into my work beginning with the Weaving the Americas series (2011), mostly landscapes of deserts, mountains and jungles; then with Weaving Water (2013), underwater scenes, the sun and the moon. While meeting with Indigenous communities I became intrigued with my own family again; in many ways, being that outsider encouraged me to grow closer to my origins. As travel and life merged into one, making connections between family, research, and landscape became more natural.

In 2013 I was invited to have an exhibition in Bristol and stayed. Stories were unfolding to me while circumstance created new realities. When I realized that Europe would hold me for longer than I would want, I begun to consider various relevant research, the most exciting was an old story that my Grandma Chilie told me long ago about the Choctaw Irish relationship and the Choctaw community gifting money to the Irish during the famine in the 1840s. My Grandma Chilie is Choctaw and grew up in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. She is a nurse, storyteller, photographer, world traveler, basket collector and writer. She told me a few years ago, “Sarah, you are living the life that I always wanted.” I told her a few weeks ago, “Grandma, I am more like you than any one I have ever known.” She agreed. Just then she pulled out a document that she had written in August 2014, called “The Choctaw Irish Relation.” I moved to Ireland in November 2014. At ninety-one she is recording her stories of family, traveling, love, and disappointment. The text that you see in this series is her words, re-written by me. I recount history in two different countries and different communities to bring perspective to an old story, turned legend, which still holds social relevance with compassion and empathy. The story goes: shortly after the Choctaw were removed and displaced in Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, word reached the community that there was starvation in Ireland. The Choctaw gathered funds and sent the money to Ireland as a gift to help. This gift had such a profound impact that the story lives strong in Ireland today. In telling one Irishman that I was Choctaw he got tears in his eyes. It is a recent past and still remembered. Learning of this story from my Grandmother, and to then move to Ireland feels like a closed circle. To re-write and re-record her experience is like breathing her life into her old home of Oklahoma. The Choctaw basket patterns are from the two baskets that she gifted to me in the summer of 2012 and the Chitimacha basket weave is consistent to the one that I bought from renowned basket maker, John Paul Darden. Weaving has been my most natural process of communication. While my grandmother was never a weaver, and I never knew my Grandfather, I am grateful that my Chitimacha community has given me the blessing to weave. In this series of work I am showing my gratitude to my ancestors for guiding my journey, bringing me to Oklahoma and for giving my grandmother an opportunity to share her stories.

 

March 2015

"INTERTWINED, Stories of Splintered Pasts"

Hardesty Arts Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

"Doolough Trail"

Installed at the Hardesty Arts Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

52" x 70"

"Doolough Trail 1"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

SOLD

"Doolough Trail 2"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 3"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

12" x 14"

 

SOLD

"Doolough Trail 4"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 5"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

12" x 14"

 

SOLD

"Doolough Trail 6"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 7"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

SOLD

"Doolough Trail 8"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 9"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 10"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 11"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com

"Doolough Trail 12"

2014

Bamboo paper, archival inkjet prints, metallic paper

12" x 14"

 

PRICE ON REQUEST

Please email sarah@sarahsense.com