I am surrounded by friends and acquaintances who have complex family structures, including those with birth fathers, fathers through marriage, adoption and other, less defined relations. Some have never met their fathers, or haven’t spoken to them in years. Each of us has an identity formed, in part, by our relationships with these people, and I believe each has stories to tell. Some of these stories are painful. Some are inspirational. Still more fall into hundreds of categories in between.
In my first year of study at the Oregon College of Art & Craft, I was given the assignment of creating a “relic” ring and a reliquary to house it. The ring was supposed to commemorate a pertinent character, thing or place from your personal history. I chose to relate a story about my father in a piece entitled, “Bend Your Fingers!” (Shown at right.) The piece gains its title from the phrase I heard uttered threateningly to every piano student my father had while I was growing up. The process of making the set, as well as sharing it openly with classmates, made me realize two things. First, the wound left within me by my alternately absent and abusive father was still raw, and second, the expression I allowed myself through the creative process helped me put aside some of the pain I’d been harboring.