Heirloom

1920’s Mersman Table Top, Colored Pencil, Wood Stain
June 2018

Through pyrography, I engage with the unique history tied to a specific piece of wood. Wood burning allows me to transform the material without covering up the essence of the wood.

This table existed in the backdrop of my mother’s interactions with her grandparents having originally belonged to them. Over time, this unremarkable object became an embodiment of her relationship to them. Although this table existed within my home as a child, it did not house the same meanings it did to my mother. To me, it remained unimportant.

Through this piece, I sought to access these meanings and a part of my mother’s life I had not previously engaged with. The branches and leaves burned into this table top document the homes this object has occupied as it passed from my grandparents, to my mother, and then to me. The center branch of the composition follows the curves of the Willamette River, branching off the Columbia near the top of the composition and winding its way down through Portland and Salem. The offshoots of the branch reach into the different geographic regions this table traveled. The specific varieties of leaves are informed by my mothers’ associations of certain varieties of trees to each home the table occupied. As this table was transformed  through pyrography, it has also become an important connection to my mother’s history.

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