Erin Cunningham’s new body of work, on display for the month of March at Bricolage. Photos by Matthew Wordell.
I can give you no more details to this story other than those I have already provided. A few photographs, trinkets, some locks of hair: they will tell you as much as they have told me. All I know is that Hazel B. Jackson once existed. I found her name on a small slip of paper, typed out and trimmed as though it were meant to fit on the lip of a file folder.
I have kept that slip of paper for seven long years now, tucking it away in boxes of keepsakes and returning to it often to make sure it was there. For awhile, I lost it. For maybe three years or so, but this summer it came back to me. She came back as though to haunt me, slipping out of somewhere this summer to call me from my living room floor.
I began to fabricate memories of her, but her identity was always obscured and I knew her mostly through her senses. In the high desert mountains of the summer when the sun gets so hot the pine needles begin to steep into the air. Every breath becomes flavored with their sharpness. The skin becomes sheathed in a thin velvet dust. And the sun continues to get hot until it encircles you and wipes you out… but let’s go back to the beginning…
First I had a name, or I was given a name and then I forgot where it came from. This was troubling because having a place (from which something comes) can really help define something or at least provide a beginning. Or, at least you can go to that place to start to find answers.
Finding requires location—to find something requires a place to find it in. Otherwise it is lost. It is in no place or in a space that cannot be identified. And once that place is forgotten, the context gone, the answers begin to dissolve with the seconds ticking away with the things you think you saw and then forgot and all other things that are lost.
So I created a place to find answers in. And since I wasn’t sure of a beginning or an end (though I know there was a birth and probably a death) I started in the middle. And this made sense for this story. And eternity of middles or middle on middle on middle and middle and middle again.
And so the Hazel B. Jackson project begins.