the bathroom and hall closet doors © kjm
A year ago, I was asked to write an essay to accompany a photography book. The sponsor (it was a benefit for a charity) had seen my Early Places series and asked me to reflect on the importance of home. My essay never made the cut, but I was pleased to be asked, and thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the subject. I thought I'd post it here, and upon reading it again, it probably should be the artist statement for Early Places.
At the entrance to my sister’s bedroom in my childhood home, the wooden floor panels creak. They did when I was a child, and they still do, decades later - I know this because my mother still lives in the house. And so I also know that there’s always been a dowel missing from the second floor banister, that the first step into the attic is oddly higher than the others, and that the door to the spice cabinet sticks slightly when pulled.
Within our lifetime, we may call many different places home, and the memory of these spaces can be powerful. When recalled, what we remember is not an overall view, but rather details - the texture of the place. The sound of a screen door slamming, a pattern of wallpaper, the smell of a basement laundry room.
Similarly, what occurs within the space we call home is an accumulation of small moments, the intimate texture of our lives. Within walls and throughout rooms, this is where our daily lives unfold. At the kitchen table, for example, we share nourishment and read the news of the day; it’s where we pay bills and where we discuss what we’ve learned in school. It’s where we blow out candles on birthday cakes.
In the living room we tune in to both history and hooey, we read quietly under the warmth of a blanket, we wrestle siblings on the carpeted floor. In the basement we create and repair; and in the bathroom we cleanse, beginning and ending our days. In the bedroom, we dream.
In the most basic terms, a home is structure – a roof and four walls, providing shelter and protection for its inhabitants. But in intimate terms, the elements of home provide human structure – which anchors both our lives and our memory - through the power of place.