In late November, 1999, I accompanied my father at the funeral for his favorite cousin Richard, in New York City. His cousin was white, and raised Jewish, but had been in a committed relationship with a younger black man for many years, and had been a beloved member of a UCC Congregationalist church in Harlem. When family frictions threatened to keep Richard from enjoying his eternal rest in a Jewish cemetery next to his beloved parents, my father smoothed the waters, and eased Richard’s final journey. This was very stressful for my father, and also confronted me with my lost opportunity to have known his remarkable cousin better than I did.
The very next day, Dad unexpectedly found himself covered in damp confetti, marching the drizzle-glistened streets of his old Manhattan neighborhood with the ghosts of his young man memories – at the very front of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In mid-September, 2001, ashes covered the shoulders of my black leather jacket as I walked the stricken neighborhoods surrounding Ground Zero with my wife.
These events cemented memories which have simmered in my consciousness ever since.
Twenty years later, my father is still alive, but no longer leads parades. The planet faces drastic challenges, and our survival is no longer assured. I pursue a body of work related to identity, connection, time, cycles, layers, evolution and dissolution.
Above, a bit of the street streamer confetti that fell on my father in New York in 1999. I am drawn to the contrast between its material simplicity and its iconographic significance, both made more complex by the conditions of its continued existence, compressed damp into a plastic bag and forgotten for nearly two decades. I found it impossible to separate the strands, which were much longer than I thought they would be.
Sometimes, the most insignificant items evoke powerful memories. But, as the Byzantine asphalts of Manhattan have buried the ancient hunting and farming grounds of the Lenape Algonquins, we see the surface of recent experience, and think it is the only layer of time that matters.