custom designed wallpaper, paper birds
Installed in an old Victorian era mansion (Kennedy Heights Arts Center), I created the custom wallpaper to include vines, birds (cardinals, specifically), and circles - imagery popular in that era. Wallpaper was fashionable in Victorian homes, especially bright green floral patterns, which derived their color out of copper arsenite, which contains the element arsenic. This paper caused many people to become extremely ill and some even died because the arsenic was leaching into the air of family homes. I included cardinals into the wallpaper design because they are symbols for loved ones who have passed, and it is said that if you see a cardinal, it is someone who has died coming back to visit you to wish you well.
Transitioning from 2-d to 3-d, the birds transform out of the wallpaper and take flight just outside the room. It speaks to how death can seem so removed, just a concept, until you are personally affected by someone very close to you dying. It’s as if death isn’t real, until it is, and suddenly all around you… I like to think of the positive memories I have from loved ones who have passed, and each time I see a cardinal I am comforted by those memories.
When my husband’s father passed away unexpectedly, it was a very difficult time for our family. Everyone handles grief in different ways, and people need time to process in their own way. I knew I wanted to pay tribute to the man that I also grew to love, and know as my other father.
This installation piece is dedicated to my father-in-law, Dale. He loved to watch the birds.