It began when I got word that my childhood home in Hoboken, New Jersey had been torn down to make way for a new condominium. In back of the building where I grew up was a large, lush garden that we shared with our next-door neighbor. When I went to investigate the wreckage, I found that the garden, once my kingdom and refuge, was also missing. However alarming, its disappearance makes sense to me, hypothetically. Since we left Hoboken years ago, my memory of the house and garden has become obscured by time and countless visitations. In my dreams it is an ever-changing landscape where new and old stories flow together. As an inner-mind sanctuary, how could it exist in the real world?
If a place can serve as muse, the garden is one of mine. That thriving jungle patch out back is what first inspired my imagination and where magic first grew. Despite the surrounding fences made of wood, iron, and wire, I felt no bounds. I learned what it was to have a world of my own. With the inevitable end of childhood and our move upstate, I felt I had lost access, and when I much later discovered its destruction, there grew an irresistible desire to rebuild it. But what is it that remains? Will a phoenix emerge from the ashes, or Dr. Frankenstein’s monster? In order to bring the pieces back together, my adult imagination fills in the gaps like glue, the mortar in between old bricks. I have combined new and old photographs, drawings, video stills, sculpture, and journal excerpts into a multi-faceted portrait of place. The garden is more than a physical place, it is an inner space where there is more still to discover.
Since learning of its sudden disappearance, my project about the home and garden of my childhood has officially begun, although it has been seeding in my consciousness for years. In 2012, I started photographing within urban gardens and surrounding wilderness in order to unearth the spirit of the garden that I felt I had lost. When I later heard about the demolition, I began searching through old photographs to scan and eventually collage. I wanted to see the old facts, but of course they were in fragments. By altering the physical and factual artifacts of my past, I allude to the process of memory recollection and degradation. I have sorted through my journals for recorded dreams of the home and garden and am illustrating the dreams with both new and old imagery. Combined with true stories of that place, I am layering truth with the complexity of memory, loss, imagination, and desire. Most recently, I have branched into the three dimensional as embodiment of place. Collected objects from along the shore of the Hudson River, near my current home in Kingston, NY, make up sculptural pieces of a home and garden in limbo. Hoboken is also located along the Hudson River, a channel connecting my past and present tense. Many years after leaving and despite its physical destruction, I am still shaping this ghost of a place.