Maternal Mitochondria will be in a show opening Aug 24th at Axle Contemporary! “The Pantone Postcard Project” features 53 artists interacting with color. The one with a dude holding a chicken in the second row from the bottom is Isabel Winson-Sagan’s. Miriam Sagan’s is middle bottom—Mt. Fuji with little birds.
This Is Not A Final Statement
I cut red paper. Then, open the envelope full of bills and accounts preserved from 1975. My father records and saves all the hospital bills of my near death and extensive hospitalization. I have the flu, pleurisy, a collapsed lung, empyema.
He writes down taxi fares: $30.00. Tolls: $3.00. Is this how he is making sense of the situation in which his eldest child is dying?
I add black ink. I’m not trained in the spontaneous gestural way of sumi. But I can slash.
I cut up the hospital bills, the endless listing of X-rays. My father’s absurd ledger.
No doubt this is because—since I will live and not die—he will take me as a tax deduction. I am 21 years old and without health insurance.
Decades later, my therapist has evinced surprise. “ A Jewish family? Middle class? No health insurance? What were they thinking?” Apparently that I was grown up and gone. But I was only the latter. I was gone, but soon I was almost…totally gone. Preserved in the black and white snapshot like someone headed for the Mekong or an overdose. Gone. And not remembered as any sort of real person.
And my father kept everything. In a manila envelope that comes to me after his death, found by my sister going through the file cabinets.
I try adding words to the collages but they don’t really work. “You’re ambivalent about your handwriting,” my daughter says as we work together on adjacent studio tables.
The fact that I’m alive at all.
My daughter Isabel and I had a wonderful week in a cabin in the mountains of north Carolina–so lush compared to New Mexico.
It is sad to leave–as we had may blissful hours of creative process–writing, marbling paper and fabric, embroidery, photographing, and collaging.
We got a bit of a proto-type for a piece of paper sculpture with text–lots of work ahead.
And of course it is always nice to go home.
to shape mountains and canyons
water must grind
going somewhere lower
to whatever the eon’s
the basin of water
must remain perfectly still
by the artist’s breath
like a garden pond
rippled by golden carp
or the mind.
Poem Miriam Sagan
Photographs Isabel Winson-Sagan