Stories My Family Never Tells I and II seeks to investigate the lives of my family members on the periphery, those who do not follow the traditional path. Inspired by my aunt Theresa’s experience in a 1960s girl group named The Shannons, the intersection of music and family became a spiritual and special gift for me. In a family of doctors, lawyers, social workers, and accountants, the members of my family who engage in the arts become accidental outcasts. Just as my aunt created a sisterhood with the other Shannons, my brother and I strengthened our siblinghood through our shared love of musical creation. In the project on view, I aim to commemorate relationships borne from artistic collaboration.
I use collage, found objects, photographs, and memorabilia from both my aunt’s life and my own life to make connections between us across time. In essence, I explore the ways in which we create our own artistic families, whether embracing those by blood, or those we encounter. Most importantly, this installation is about sound: I invite the viewer to listen to cassette tapes filled with both personal archival audio, interviews I recorded with my aunt and groupmates, and my original commentary. For my aunt, the loss of her hearing ended her once hopeful career in music and theatre. For me, the rejection and pain of theatre separated me from my once vivid dreams. These stories become metaphorical boxes in the attics of our families’ brains, only dusted off and uncovered when someone nosy like me starts to ask questions. While the visual pieces physically illustrate the breaking apart of time and space, the cassette tapes appeal to the curiosity that plagues loss on all parts of its spectrum. Questions ensue, but answers may not abound.