What about being seen?

I had an exhibition of drawings, collages and sculptures in 1993, maybe ’94 at Maine College of Art in the gorgeous upstairs of what was Portland’s original library, the Baxter Gallery. My mom came from North Dakota to see the show and visit me in my new home of Maine. She didn’t come to my thesis exhibition years before, or other shows I’d been in in Arizona and in those pre-internet days there was little way to show her my work other than haul out boxes of photographs or portfolios of prints for her to see, which happened rarely, if ever.

She walked through the gallery rooms by herself, I intentionally did not to chat next to her. Giving her time and space was on my mind, I had no prompts or hopes or guesses about her reaction.

When she finished she sat next to me on the bench in the middle of the gallery and said: “I can picture you making these”.

Perfect. But was the work about being seen? While these drawings, sculptures and collages were not made out of this intention and I thought that body of work in particular was about finding, looking, and not about being seen but rather about my own seeing and massaging change. There plunked the fact of what seemed to be authentic noticing conflating the past and the moment. A kind of family vigilance that becomes relationships of observance. Never mind the work, mind the response.

I can picture you making these.