Below are images of my first handmade book called "My Father's House" completed October 2015. Mixed-Media Flagbook
Since the sudden death of my father in February of 2015, I've be grappling with my grief and how to say goodbye. This loss affected me in such a deeply profound way, that it really jarred by creative practice in ways I could not predict. Dealing with loss and grief is a tremendous challenge, and so for me it was an opportunity to explore my feelings about my father, his life, and his untimely death through my artwork.
The first project to emerge from these new explorations in subject and material came in the form a book. The idea of an object seemed so important as a way to explore my feelings about my father. When he died my father was penniless, but he kept a storage unit filled with "things". These objects were so important to him. His hoarding and collection of items that would be considered junk by anyone else seemed to mirror his struggle with depression and addiction leading up to his death. So, it seemed like making a physical object would be a way to start dealing with some of my emotions.
I chose to explore this further by focusing on my father's house. He spent his entire life doing back-breaking physical labor as a construction worker. He loved his job and he loved building houses. The house I grew up in was completely designed and built from the ground up by my father, and I believe it was his proudest achievement. The memories I have of that place are filled with laughter, joy, and love...the home was a special place.
When he died, I discovered that this house was not in my father's name. Rather, his parents owned the home and they planned to sell it. After digging through my father's folders and papers I found his handwritten notes regarding how much money he owed his parents and his plans for getting out form under the debt. I also discovered the hand-written lease from his parents. In many ways, I think part of his depression was fueled by his need to get out from under the debt of the house that he owed his parents. He mentioned to me on more than one occasion he wanted to just sell it and pay them back so he could move on.
The flagbook seemed like the perfect choice to contain this difficult narrative. The intersections of the flags allowed me to layer old photos, with images from the house's listing for sale. I also included my father's blue prints and scans of his bills. I wanted the happiness of the photos and memories to be tempered by the reality of the house being sold.
In the front cover, I built an envelope to hold the bills my father kept, along with his book-keeping and lease. In the back cover, I scanned the envelope and certificate of his cremation, the finality of his passing, the closing of the story.