Elijah Smith

Elijah Smith

Memories are odd things. It’s believed that the first time recalling a memory, someone is recalling the truth of what happened. Afterwards, a memory can easily be tampered with. Truth can fade, and what was easy to recall; fringe, and rip till only the barebones of the memory are all that is left.. Those bones are all someone has left, sometimes they are tastes, smells, sights, emotions, or motions. Each memory is different and how they alter can depend on multiple things.

On October 28, 2005, Miranda Lynn Smith, my older sister of fourteen, died of brain cancer, a cancer that had originally started in her leg five years prior. This show is about the persistence of memory and how even almost fifteen years later, some things will resist time and not be forgotten.

To physically embody this notion of the persistence of memory, I created a full-scale sword that my sister originally designed. The original drawing no longer exists and I had to rely upon my own memory to bring the piece to fruition with extra embellishments such as the precious jewels of citrine, garnet, Mexican opal and ruby.

The dolls are both a representation of an activity that my sister and I would do (we would build elaborate worlds and scenarios with dolls) and the progression of time and how it affects memory. Of how the memory of someone, alters, parts are taken away, pieces are replaced, rot and eventually decay until all that is left is the cold worn snapshots taken in certain points of time and the faded memories of things you can only hope are true. Things such as looks, personality, voice, and their favorite things boiled down to those small points of time, that only the person they showed themselves to be and not who they really were, are left.

My painting is representative of the swirling, dark, angry, emotions I had towards others at that time. It’s hard for eleven-year olds, sometimes even adults, to understand the acute feeling of loss of a sibling. It's that forgotten step at the top of the stairs, it’s the breath that whooshes out when you jump into very cold water; you expect them to be with you every step of the way till you're old.  

After fifteen years, the thought of my sister can still break me down. Although it’s challenging to talk about, it’s also important to address the loss of a loved one. There might be someone else who is experiencing the same thing and they need to know it will be okay. While it’s painful and the anguish never really goes away, it fades and becomes easier to bear. Those few treasured happy memories you still preserve will help guide you through.

SIUE 2020
MFA & BFA EXHIBITIONS
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