|"Memory Map" 2017|
The child I was is just one breath away from me. - Sheniz Janmohamed, Firesmoke
The concept for this piece began in a class on art and intuition that I took years ago when I lived in Taos. In one of the exercises, we drew the floor plan of a childhood home from memory. I chose to draw the house that I lived in from ages 2-12, and this allowed strong visual images to arise from that time as a child. Memory Map is the result of a long incubating idea for a finished piece.
I stitched the floor plan on two-thirds of the piece starting on the right side, filling the rooms with objects and images. Some of these I created in simple line while others are much more detailed, referencing both photographs and my own recollections.
The general design of the left third of the piece is created from a photograph of me and my sister on either side of our two cousins, posing under a tree in the backyard. To this I added pets, the iris, and my bicycle. The varied colors of the leaves represent the changing seasons and the passage of time.
A white fence extends from the backyard into the center section floor plan and signifies the malleability of memory and a child’s deep connection to imagination, nature, and outside play. The swing set, framing the bedroom, acts as a symbolic representation of my sister and me. A print of Renoir’s painting "A Girl With A Watering Can" hung in our room, and my detailed reproduction of it became a central image by default and not necessarily because of its importance. To me, it depicts an idealized world of order and childhood innocence, thus both intersecting and contrasting with the real life represented around it. The framed mushrooms above it portray the first and only needlework project that I made from a kit when I was around 8 and that was displayed in my parents’ bedroom for years.