Bowls of Memory

I have been working on a piece conjuring up memories of my Irish ancestors with these bits of cloth and emblems of places and things.  My grandfather came from Northern Ireland the year before the Titanic sailed; he was one of 12 children and since he died in the 1940s, he was never to see his parents or most of his siblings again. He made his way from New York to the copper and silver mines of Jerome, Arizona. Since he did not like mining, he parted ways with his brother Henry and struck out for Los Angeles.  He met and married my grandmother and worked as a motorman on the Pacific Red Car Line his entire career.  (That would be the kind of job you could get with a third grade education.)

This piece is almost finished…I intend to finish the border, although I still would like to leave that material on the right going beyond the right-hand border.  I have added a few references to my father and his family…he is in the lower dark square holding a pole vault pole. 

He grew up quite literally on the other side of the tracks from my mother—he was in South Central LA and she was in West Hollywood.  A small thread connects their initials.  There’s more, but I need not explain every symbol; every memory triggers another.  These words of James Joyce from Finnegans Wake seem apt:  “over the bowls of memory where every hollow holds a hallow…”

I have used rusty nails, quilting scraps, photos transferred to cloth, and both hand and machine stitching for this piece. Here are a couple detail photos: