New Paltz, New York
Pigmented inkjet print on rag paper with drumleaf binding
Much of my recent work grows from historical research and materials drawn from travel or archival collections. I use history to create provocative new works that expose biases and question assumptions about what we know and how we know it. For the viewer, new meanings and interpretations emerge as official versions of history and reality are subverted. My books have explored individual and collective memory, the culture of memorials, and institutional control of sites of war, trauma, and loss. In recent works, my interest has turned to creating unique new voices expressive of those whose voices have not been heard. I do not attempt to speak for them, but to create a space in which their lives can be imagined through the lens of my own vision.
Glass House explores the 1984 death of a young Irish woman with whom I share the same name. She was 15, pregnant and unmarried, when she died from hemorrhage and exposure with her stillborn son in a grotto to the Virgin Mary in Granard, Ireland. It is unclear whether her family or community knew of her pregnancy or offered any help. The family has never spoken publicly of her death, or of her sister’s three months later from an overdose of prescription drugs. The father of her child has never come forward or been identified. Three months before her death the Irish voted to support a referendum effectively making the existing ban on abortion part of the country’s constitution.
Glass House explores issues of vulnerability and protection, privacy and exposure, sensuality and the failures of Catholicism in her life. The glass house functions as a metaphor and is reflected as well in the subject of these photographs, glass domed grave decorations traditionally seen in Catholic graveyards in Ireland. Over time they become fogged with condensation, broken or half filled with water, obscuring the religious figures within and the faith they are intended to embody. The text is a book-length poem written by the artist.
Glass House is digitally printed on rag paper with archival pigmented inks. The binding is a drumleaf construction with hard covers and a break-away spine.