Tragic losses in my family did not play any role in most of my life. The early death of my maternal uncle happened before I was born, and though I saw David’s artwork in almost every room of our house, he was rarely discussed. After his death at age twenty-two, my grandparents compiled a book of David’s artwork, letters, poems, and journal entries. I found the canvas-covered book before I departed for college, and it sat on my bookshelf for years collecting dust before I finally opened it.
My immediate connection to the words that my uncle left on paper over forty years ago overwhelmed me. The book captures David Bean as a college student, in awe of his promising and daunting future.
In order to memorialize my uncle, I have brought the distant memories of his words off of the page, into my life, and into the lives of those around me. Discovering my uncle and mourning the loss of such young potential has taken me into nature; I have worked with charcoal and mud, the elements of cremation and burial, and displayed my pieces outside, where his memorial belongs.
Some take blows on the outside, some on the inside is a study of eroded possibility. What would David’s life have become if he had been able to grow old? How would my family, inseparable from its scars, exist now with him in it?