"When I was a kid, I never thought I’d try heroin. When I did, I realized it was the best thing ever and I regret it every day."
Five years ago, I found out someone in my immediate family was using heroin. The revelation was her in a hospital bed fighting for her life, and I’ll never forget watching her detox once she awoke. Though drug addiction is not an uncommon epidemic, no one imagines their family member self-medicating in such a way. This body of work is my exploration into my family’s experience with momento mori and the cycle of relapse, rehab, repeat.
Momento mori is the artistic use of symbols representing death. The master line work of Albrecht Durer’s etchings, and the floral intricacy of 16th century Dutch still life paintings became a common inspiration for me. It became my goal to make every part of my drawings to symbolize that drug addiction is not a choice, but a cycle of self-medication for untreated trauma and/or mental illness.
The abundance of mice are trapped in purgatory, reliving the sequence endlessly. The permanence of the ink marks on paper mirror the same permanent scars that drug addiction has engraved into my family. The ever-aging flora and fauna in my work represents the various cycles of life, and of rebirth. And the little girl is my family member, as a child, before traumas of mental illness led her down the path of self-medicating.
Through my work, I hope to open a dialogue between those with immense and few experiences with addiction. My wish is to help take away the taboo that haunts those who are now actively trying to live in recovery. Recovery requires support, and unconditional forgiveness for past wrongs. Together, we can breathe a healthier society and break the cycle of relapse, rehab, and repeat.