After fleeing her home alone when her family was targeted by communist revolutionaries, my grandmother started a new life for herself in the city of Guangzhou. She found work in a steel factory where she was given a pair of woven gloves each month to protect her hands. After giving birth to my mother, she collected the gloves each month, broke them down, and reformed them into winter pants to keep my mother warm.
How can I, as an artist and a neuroscientist, give body to memories that are not mine? My work addresses these concepts through the representation of family history using the unraveling of the glove as a metaphor for memory. In this multimedia printmaking installation, I explore matrilineal identity and intergenerational memory using experimental print-based processes. Through my experiments, I adapt printmaking and create a new language with which to give life to generational histories.
Traces of Memory consists of a series of blind embossed prints made using one glove unraveled over time, contained in a handmade clamshell box embossed with my hand. Each print is one of a kind and captures the glove and its materiality as it exists in that moment while becoming its own object: an object of memory.
Conversation Threads consists of balls of string made from unraveled gloves. The piece was made during phone interview conversations with my mother, during which she recounted a story about her life as I unwove one glove. Each ball of yarn contains one of my mother's stories.
In Collective Memory, my grandmother, mother, and I participate in a conversation about past experiences while each taking apart a glove. The physical act of unraveling the gloves together and the conversation with each other become an act of healing.