Anile: Family Narratives

Anile: Family Narratives.     Photo Turi McKinley 2016

I learn the most about myself through the people I know best. Several years ago I was reflecting on the lessons I'd learned from my grandmothers, Doris and Anile, and the aspects of them I see living in myself.

This sculpture represents Anile ("Ana-lee"), my maternal grandmother and a life-long Texan. When I knew her best she lived in a classic country farmhouse, down a gravel drive from the highway, filled with lovingly collected items - many porcelain, but also natural objects like stones with holes worn through them. Drawers were also carefully filled with saved items - neatly folded plastic bags, re-straightened twist-ties, bundled pieces of twine - the legacy of a Depression Era childhood.

All the precious items were labeled in her tidy hand in a private code that noted the price at purchase, the name of the item, its year and other information. Everything in the house had its place - bottled, boxed, cabinet or drawer.

In many ways, she'd dreamt of another life than the one she led of motherhood and being a wife. She'd hoped to pursue library science after a Summa Cum Laud graduation, but the role she married turned that detail to porcelain and labels. She had a keen eye for art and beauty, and I see it in her girls, my aunts, and in myself the desire to keep track of the origin of things and for the beauty around us.

The sculpture contains aspects of her life: the awareness of beauty and the natural world jarred below; the labels bundled and aged but each with a story jarred above; and all capped by the jar holding a kerchief preciously embroidered with 'Mother'. It contains these things, but never feels satisfied.


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