Amy Flaherty
Artist Statement for Palindromic Sequences

I am like my mother. I look like her, walk like her, laugh like her, smell like her, sound like her. Throughout childhood, my mother was my hero and in early adulthood, my best friend. On February 22, 2006, my mother died from breast cancer at 60; I was 19. I am now 25 years old, and wonder if I am still like my mother or if my memory now defines her.
In my current work, I lose weight to look like my mother at different times of her life. When I weigh more, I look like she did in her fifties. As I lose weight, I resemble her at a progressively younger age. I document this action through reenactments of photos and original documents of my mother. In addition to fabricating her clothing, I create detailed backgrounds through painting and installation.
In this photographic documentation, viewers notice striking resemblances between the original and the reenactment, but they would never mistake one for the other. The viewer of my art is only fooled for a second by the facets of my mother I contain. Like a child playing dress up, I fail to become more than a fractured version of my mother. I wear a ghost’s clothing, paralleling my own ghostliness after my mother’s death.
What happens when there is a loss of a relationship that forms a large part a person’s character? A portion of myself is lost to memory. Where there was advice and guidance, there is now only recollection. My reminiscence of my mother becomes an authority in my decisions. I trusted my mother’s opinion when she could speak, but I doubt my memories six years later with no verification or conversation.
Family photographs can’t change even though I am changing. However, the information in photography is limited and synthetic. After all, I knew my mother only as a mother. She lived forty years before I was born. As I lose more weight and take more photographs, the less I will know my mother from experience. I turn into someone I’ve only seen in photographs but still want to remember.