my mama’s spirit

I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel in the theatre, today, and i wish so much for my mom to see it.  Ralph Fiennes, the 1930′s, a murder mystery caper.  it could not have been a more perfect movie for her.

 

 

I have a few hundred messages ( I think it’s 497) from my mom, stored on facebook.  I need to figure out how to download a specific fb conversation, and possibly print it…I have only looked at them every so often, and I guess where there are so many messages, it is hard to slowly scroll through a specific section, without it jumping extremely far ahead or behind.  but I guess it’s a good thing, because through serendipity, I  found this:

June 2, 2012

  • Sally Layton
    Sally Layton

    were you just trying to skype me..at 4-45 pm my time..sorry if you were, my computer was acting up like it never has before..saying I needed to contact a number to use skype..Kate was able to shut it off..thank-goodess..but I wanted to make sure you were’nt trying to get a hold of me..I kno you’ve had another wonderful day in Paris..I can think about nothing else,..my spirit is with you..wow, I did’nt mean to sound so creepy..miss you, love you, Mama

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Mother Being -The Artist Statement

Starting next month, April, I am having a 3 month long exhibition that will also be my 3rd solo show.  With my two previous independent exhibitions, I have been rather finicky with the artist statement.  With the last show, I didn’t even produce one, and with my first, I stuck the framed, handwritten sentences in the gallery’s bathroom.  Close to the toilet.  This 3rd show, entitled “Mother Being” is made of work that is highly vulnerable to me. However, the statement (as with most shows) should be seen and heard (well, in your head as you’re reading.)  Details of the exhibit location, dates, and  reception will all be included on the show’s upcoming postcard.  Until then, this is the artist statement, for Mother Being:

When I  became completely immersed in using mixed media within my art through glitter, gold paint, and anything iridescent,  I saw it as a means to help me create a fantasy and dreamlike world.  I had once tried to make a diptych that would depict a view into what I felt when my mom became very sick.  When I was in the early stages of experimenting with materials in class,  I decided to glue onto one of the wooden panels a cluster of the many grocery lists my mom gave me.  They were colored, categorized, sometimes illustrated, often confusing, and very very long.  As she became bedridden and of course could not do things like errands, it was one of the tasks that became mine.  I hated that painting.  Instead of describing what I felt, it just seemed completely cold, stilted, and unlike anything I would normally connect to my mother, even as she was changing–so I painted over it.

The newly painted image transformed the old work into an airy, pastel world, utilizing both party-store finds and fine art materials.  This includes such varied materials as horses made of confetti, candy-colored purples and blues made from oils, and birthday party tissue paper; all quietly and  joyfully invading the scene.  I thought I was simply unable to ever make art about my mom.  I instead looked to escapism from all the confusing feelings I had in regards to her.

I look at how my work has been evolving since then, and I am able to develop many reasons why both conceptually and aesthetically the  metallic, glittery, and reflective materials are in my art.  However, it is  not until very recently do I truly see where it all comes from.

As an illustrator and lover of film, my mother created a myriad of drawings, cards, stationary, collages, birthday games, board games, and complete decorations for every kind of holiday imaginable.  Each item was usually drawn with graphite, inked, and finally colored and decorated with her hand.  Her embellishments went beyond her favorite felt-tipped markers, though. There was always something sparkly.  And gold.  She loved the color gold! From adhering loose glitter to her illustrated old Hollywood stars, to shimmery puff paint and glitterized glue that was  often seen outlining her subject matter.  I know now that I have not been entirely failing at honoring my many feelings towards my mother, and nor could I ever try to escape it.

The following works are paintings I had started while becoming a mother as I was losing my own.   This body of work also features new images I have been creating, that attempt to explore my feelings of what it has been like for me to be taking care of a happy and inspiring new baby, while dealing with the weirdness of grief.   When I’m not feeling able to express myself with words or my voice (often), I choose to communicate through image.  Though my mother spoke eloquently, visual art was also a frequent means of her communication.  With each new day of motherhood, I increasingly wish that I could talk with my mother.  I don’t know if she can see what I’m doing or know any of the thoughts in my head that I want her to hear.  I do know that I would not be an artist if it weren’t for her, and more importantly, I would not have been able to become a mother.  It is because of her that I can be an artist, and that I can be a mother, and a being.

With everything I make, I am celebrating her.

A human being grew within me

Even now, months after my son’s birth, I am stunned that I really was able to have him form within me.  And then become who he is right now.

When he opens his mouth, I am in disbelief that he has a tongue. A REAL tongue!  And reacts to things and laughs while looking into my eyes and gets toe jam.  Sometimes finger jam, too!!

My mother didn’t get to be alive when I gave birth to him, but she did see me (and him) up until almost 25 weeks into the pregnancy.

She did get the chance to ask to place her hand on my stomach, in hopes of feeling him move.  Even though my skin was in between them, they were still together, both alive, at the same time.

“You’ll go far with your writing.”

My mom always loved my writing, but after college, I stopped writing.  Not only for school, but for fun, too.  I’ve very slowly slowly slow-motion-y started writing again—semi-fiction for a film script of something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time in my head, as well as writing in my diary, again.

I am working on a diary entry that I want to post here, because what it describes is my current life– which happens to also contain hallmarks of what will affect me the rest of my life- dealing with the grief of losing my mother, and now, officially becoming a mommy, myself (!)

My baby was born just weeks ago, so that is mainly the reason for the slow-motion-y part of how often I can even think about working on extra-curricular things.  But if it weren’t for my son, these things would not be happening at all.

Handmade Halloween- Cardboard Headstone

Handmade Halloween- Cardboard Headstone

My mom with one of the Halloween decorations she had made for a party–October was her favorite month.

The Lady in Yellow

  • <—-not sure why that conspicuous little dot is there…

    I’ve decided to keep regularly posting about my mom–but to instead focus on sharing (or as she’d put it, “showing off”) images of her artwork.  It may be daily at first, and then weekly at times, and  sometimes with stories or memories that surround the art piece or what it makes me think about, in regards to her.

    img281

    The first series I’d like to start posting, are original drawings my mom made specifically as greeting cards for her mom & dad, over the late 80′s and early to mid 90′s, mainly, and for various occasions.

    Below are some more extracted bits from facebook conversations I had with my mom last year–these were written a year to the date (5/20/13) that my mom was hospitalized.

    • Sally Layton  5/13/12, 4:33 pm
    • That would be great..I look forward to your call..any time you want..I miss my first baby that made me a mommy..by -the-way , have I ever thanked you for that…no big plans today…although since your dad is grocery shopping for us today, I’m making him treat us to a Mac Donald’s to-go..lunch. I’m craving their filet-o-fish sandwich and their fruit parfit…it does’nt take much to make me happy..yesterday I watched so many episodes of Ever Decreasing Circles that I was dreaming all night that I was hanging out with the actors..especially Peter Egan..he is so handsome on this show.I’ts nice to have a crush..of course this show ran back in 1984-1989..Mr. Egan is now respectively 65..oh well were all geting older..I look at that picture of me that you put up..was I ever that young…Miss you, Love you…

    • May 21, 2012
    • Sally Layton
      Sally Layton

      your hair looks super red in your picture..very glamourous..My container garden is growing fast especially the greenbeans..and now my carrots are coming up..I’m so excited..like a little kid..I check on them every day…today the weather is perfect..sunny, but not too hot..71 degrees..and a slight breeze..Kate just has a half a day to go ..after today..but today there just going to play movies in class and some teachers will have goodies..The pastry’s they have in Iceland I bet are really good..and I love a chocolate glaze..your making me crave your dessert…Kate is dieing to see the movie Dark Shadows..but her friends want to see the Avengers [superheros], movie instead..Stephanie , nextdoor wants to see Dark Shadows too..but has no-one to see it with..so we might go to the Carmike theatre to see it with her soon..I’d kind of like to see it ..plus I’d like to see if I can sit through a 2-hr. movie at the theatre..it’s been 3-yrs. since I’ve been to the movies..I’d have to go to Ashville..to see the Exotic Marigold Hotel film..too bad it’s so far away..miss you…Love Mama

    Sally Layton 5/23, 8:25 pm (2012)

    that’s funny ,about the little girls ..when I see little children I smile at them , they looked scared and say mommy..and run away…The last time I was in the grocery store they were playing E.L.O…Mr. Blue Sky..one of my favorite songs…we’re in for a super big thunder storm..the wind is really blowing…and the sky looks mad and dark..I’m hungry again, so I’m going to quickly make some dinner..just in case we lose power..it feels like that kind of storm..fun huh..I was just looking up stuff on etsy.. and stitching some more cross bookmarkers..

  • Sally Layton
    Sally Layton

    It still makes me sad about Wyatt..I hate wasted talent..he knows how much everyone loves him down here on earth…I think it’s wonderful of you to dedicate your film to him ,in his memory..what a thoughtful gesture..his mother will appericate it very much..I think of her often..love you my baby..Mama

Future Messages — “Everything can wait”

Last year, prior to going out of the country to Iceland, i begged my mom to set up both a Facebook and Skype account, so that I could still talk to her, besides mailing postcards or letters.

She was very frustrated when first using these things, but grew somewhat accustomed–though there were many times i would hassle my little sister, via FB messenger, to “tell mama to check her messages right now!!”.  My mom was always my very bestfriend, and even when I lived in Iceland or France and the Skype camera was acting finicky, and my microphone never worked — or if the winter nights  in Skagaströnd became stormy to the point that my roommates and I were forced to wait until morning to walk back to the studio (where we had internet), then i would write letters to my mom, while sitting on the bathroom floor, away from the everyone, because I for some reason needed extra privacy when just communicating to my mom in “silence”, through pen and paper.

I suppose thinking about ideas of the afterlife always becomes more prevalent to people after they’ve lost someone, but I have never felt so compelled to invest my thoughts into it, and in the way that I have, as I’ve been doing the past month.  I’ve never before believed and doubted, so back and forth, so intensely, the myriad of possibilities that i can conceive may happen after life, this adamantly, before.  but more than anything, I feel so frustrated and challenged

  • June 22, 2012
  • Sally Layton

    Happy Birthday..My Baby..your 24 today..I know your having a really special Birthday this year..spending it in Paris, with good friends and Sid..and we’ll celebrate with you in our thoughts, that are never far from you…And then you’ll have a second Birthday celebration in Tenn., when you get back…Have a wonderful day..I Love You Very Much, love Mama

  • June 27, 2012
  • Sally Layton

    Where you at, little heifer…are you still in Louieville..or are you visiting friends…

  • Liz Layton

    in Louisvillestill, was gonna call you

    sid is workingandwantsto comewith me to TN

    so thats why I’m waiting till he comes back from work…but in themeantime, I am sick:( with a summer cold

    i am a heffer

  • Sally Layton

    I thought he would..Sorry your sick..maybe you should rest another day..

  • Liz Layton

    of course thekiddos think I should stay another week. I think i am getting better already though

  • Sally Layton

    I just miss you..

  • Liz Layton

    he needs to do laundry here, and then we will probably go, sometimetonight

    i miss you too! I feel badfor not bein home yet

  • Sally Layton

    Don’t push yourself..we;ll see you when we see you..

  • Liz Layton

    maybe I will just make sid drive!!

  • Sally Layton

    Don’t feel bad,everything can wait..

Slideshow of Sally // My Mom

Mother Being: I

 

I started this painting in Early May, right before moving and a few weeks before my mother was hospitalized.  I put it away, just to pull it out again in July, where I started added materials that belonged to my mother, that I had found while packing her things and putting away her house–her glitters, sequins, tiny stars and flowers, and other delicate ephemera.  It was finished the night I was at 25 weeks in my pregnancy.  My favorite parts are the thingys in the hair, and the tracing-papered woman profile that i divided in two, and decoupaged near the bottom corners–that sketch was also my mother’s.

The day before she passed away, I brought little projects to work on, like envelopes I’d been stamping, and magazines to cut later.  I had this painting with me, and showed it to her, and said how I hoped she was okay with me using her drawing and materials within it–she kept running her fingers across the different textures, and especially seemed to like the beads.

detail3 detail1 detail2 IMG_8068 IMG_8071 IMG_8069 IMG_8059 IMG_8061 IMG_8060

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