Artist's Statement

Beth Galton

16” x 20” archival ink jet prints

We tend to think of memories as the personal histories that define us, as if our brains physically transfer these memories from short- to long-term storage with data from our experiences. However, one theory of long-term memory posits that, when we recall a memory, we create it anew. As I learned more, I began to question: Was I creating memories of my childhood from photographs? Reminiscence is a collection of “memories” that I have constructed: some from experiences that I recall and some that I cannot.

In 2017, my mother and father—who had not lived together for 50 years—died within three days of each other. After their deaths, I discovered objects from before, during, and after their marriage, including photographs of scenes that I had no memory of.

In this series, I applied natural materials with these objects and photographs to make sense of my memories. This allowed me to see myself and my family in new ways. The botanicals that I have included function as admissions of my own hand in the creation of these scenes, and they serve as a reminder of the ever-changing nature of memory—an unstable and unreliable process. Just as memory can transcend time and recombine in ways that allow us to cast new light on our lives, I have chosen objects from across time, thus re-contextualizing mundane fragments. Through my tableaus, I acknowledge the unreliability of memory and attempt to display the interweaving network of events that we call “the past.”