Miscellaneous Souls

(a work in progress)

Miscellaneous Souls weaves together themes of memory, childhood and place with those of domestic violence, survival and paths we walk. Using found vignettes, staged and designed imagery, it blends both personal history and imagined realities. It is a story of connecting to my past through the place I live now. It is a story of surviving a traumatic childhood and an homage to all the souls who did not.

The title references the word "miscellaneous" that was printed on a canvas, drawstring bag my mother filled with our shoes the night we left her abusive boyfriend for the last time. Having already moved twenty times by age ten due to similar circumstances, this time was different. A few days later we were on a bus to live in a women’s shelter in a new state – to start a new life. That night my mother literally and figuratively walked us out of one life and put us on the path to a new one. Years later that bag was still burned into my memory and when I was a teenager I asked her why she only took shoes. She said she could make us almost everything else, but not shoes. It was a survival based decision and underscores for me now just how tenuous our lives were then.

My photography practice often takes me into open fields and urban edge spaces in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I now live. I frequently see old shoes desiccated by the sun and half eaten by the high desert and their presence and condition is always unsettling. It does not foretell good things about their wearer’s lives. One day I linked my memory to all these old shoes, seeing them in a new light and feeling connected to the souls who wore them and their likely struggles in life - knowing these could have been my shoes if my life path had turned out differently.

Miscellaneous Souls is for my childhood self, it’s for all children who grow up in violent homes. It’s for my mother who made a profound choice, for everyone who makes choices that change their lives for the better. It’s for those who have insurmountable odds or still struggle, and a prayer that a path opens for them, that they land on their feet and establish nourishing roots.