In a society that cuts itself off from its elders, that treats age as a disease to be fought at any cost, we have forgotten something vital to our existence. Elders are essential to the growth of a culture.
They pass on stories, tradition, and wisdom to those who will listen while making room for the young to take their place. My series of work, Worth Remembering, is a group of large-scale charcoal portraits based on stories collected while working as a nursing home volunteer.
Through interviews, I collaborated with nursing home residents to re-establish their connection with society. We shared the longing to be a part of the stream of life, to feel like contributing members of the community, to be heard.
Within these recollections, memories came clearer to some than to others. What affected me most were not the things forgotten, but what was held on to most tightly.
The charcoal portraits drawn for this series are based on the interviewee’s strongest memory, a defining characteristic or experience. When displayed as a group, along with a sitting area to listen to the recorded interviews, an intimate atmosphere is created to encourage reflection and discussion.
What in our lives is truly worth remembering? I find it frustrating yet intriguing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot control what memories will stay with me for the rest of my life.
When the mind is weathered by time and age, when your choices have been narrowed for you, when all other memories and faces have faded away, what will remain? Will anyone take the time to listen?