Below is the written statement from Gallery Edit’s August 2017 show, Edit: Memory Map. The statement was written by the Gallery’s Art Team to help viewers contemplate Stacey Silkey’s work.
As people, and especially as artists, memory serves many significant purposes in our experiences and expressions of those experiences. In addition to personal and individual memories of things that have happened in our own lives, we also share collective memories as the many facets of our identity intersect with others. Based on our socio-economic status, ethnicities, ancestries, religion, and gender, among a host of other things, we share memory within these categories as a sub-group of people. African-Americans share a collective memory of the past experiences of those who lived during times of enslavement, the civil rights movement, and even more current struggles of racial inequality. Jews share a collective memory of past experiences of those who lived during the great exodus out of Egypt, persecution and genocide during the Holocaust, and contemporary antisemitism. These kinds of shared memories among people of different identities are part of each person’s individual memory.
Stacey Silkey, in her work for this show, Memory Map, has created paintings based upon her own memory and experiences. These works serve as a visual record of her internal and conversational memory as she engages with both the past and the present. Although this practice of using art and visual representation is not necessarily unique, the ways in which the artist portrays her own memory is personal and specific as a unique individual made in the image of her Creator. In fact, this practice of making something to stand as a symbol of remembrance dates back to the Israelites (and even earlier than that).
After the defeat of the Philistines by the armies of Israel under Samuel, Samuel named the location of their victory, Ebenezer, which means “The LORD has helped us.” Marking important events with an object or name was a common practice in many cultures, and this was also the case for the Jews. The artist’s paintings exhibited in this gallery serve as visual markers of past memories, both individual and collective. The same is true of creative expression as a whole. These markers create a map of memory.
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90
Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
If you were to create your own representations of memories, what might they be? What would they look like? As you think about your own Ebenezer, what individual and collective memories come to mind?