contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Relics

My grandmother ruffles through a box of material
that smells of mothballs. 4X4 squares
of old curtains, denims, dresses, ties, scarves.
Anything that could be cut to make quilts
packed so tightly in a yellowed box
the color on the fabric has no room to fade.
She searches for a newspaper article.
I've been through the box twice. Its not there.
She is so sure, so serene
as if by memory alone she can will it there.

Just to let you know that I am occasionally posting at Instagram. @leslieavonmiller

Her fingers lull through the fabric
loosening the earth of her past.
Each square, a sermon, a kiss, a new dish.
Hands still immersed, she recites the article.
It is of my father's early promotion in the Army.
I know how she must have studied it, line by line,
until the words became his uniform,
his boots, his medals, his tags.

I have been enjoying the art of still life. I use things I have gathered from nature, small collage, mail art and some relics from my family. The elephant was a souvenir my Dad picked up in WWII as a gift for his Mom. I cherish it with its handmade personality and wabi sabi appearance. In my mind's eye I see it sitting on a glass shelf in the corner of the kitchen. I can almost smell cooking applesauce.

She does not find it but she smiles. She offers me
the fabric to make quilts, pillowcases,
anything that can be sewn into a memory.
I take it, though I have already memorized her:
the smell of mothballs on her hands,
the rows of vegtables she nurtured
wearing the flowered dress that lies in pieces in the box.
I see her in my sleep. Words on a page.
I recite her.

~Poem entitled Vera Jewel
by Michelle McMillan-Holifield

This lovely typewritter was my Mother's Mother's. She had been a one room school house teacher, and then later the bookkeeper for her husband's auto repair garage. One day they packed up and went to Alaska. They never returned for the house full of things they left behind. They became my Mother's and are now mine. They are old enough now to be "vintage". I find them appealing and find it enjoyable to "document" them, via still life.

These things of our lives are never really ours. We are temporary custodians.