21 Magnolia Rd.
21 Magnolia Rd. reveals my childhood secrets of abuse and tells my truth about being raised by mentally ill parents in the 1960's. Using various media my compilations tell a sometimes funny, often disturbing tale. As a child, I was attracted to drawing pretty ladies and cute babies, while my father took Polaroids and tried to make the family pose in happy scenes. I learned to see beauty where shadows prevailed and realized early on that life did not have to be so miserable. I had two worlds growing up, the one at home and the other, beautiful one that was waiting just outside our front door and in my imagination. In exploring this gift of seeing, I strive to create what I hope is inviting and meaningful work.
Telling stories about my family over the years, people would always ask,
“How did you turn out so normal?”
My father was a big exec in the music business and tried to run our family the same way. “Every company needs a worrier and your mine, Mary Kevin!”
He appeared to know everything and was a very charismatic liar. Even at nine, I knew I was being handed a raw deal. My Mom described living with him as walking on eggs and we all 'ran like the dickens' when he got home!
21 Magnolia Rd. was my childhood address in Briarcliff Manor NY. People had no idea what went on in our house; and neither did we, most of the time. My mother was an artist who rarely made art and when she did, she was only fleetingly happy due to anxiety, depression, alcoholism and a myriad of physical ailments. I loved her very much, and always tried my best to help.
Early on, I worked hard to become a good artist too, and relied on it to forget the day to day. Surrounded by dichotomies; creative brilliance wove its way through lies and stories. Beauty and ugliness were bed-partners and emotional chaos resulted. My parents seemed as good as they were bad. I was the oldest girl of four children and put in charge of the clan, by default.
Rebelling against the misery and experiencing the sheer pleasure of making art has always been my lifeline. It created my ticket out to art school and adulthood. Left to ponder my beginnings, I collage together my past and tell my story using Polaroid’s, B&W prints, drawings, artifacts and recreations from memory to build my narrative. Mental illness, verbal and sexual abuse were only whispered about when I was growing up. 21 Magnolia Rd. is my survival story of family love and hate, alongside the power of the arts to heal. In attempting to paint the picture my way, I find the strength to be myself, and the confidence to make new work.
I was just lucky, I guess…