Sarah Stein





artistic research + process blog

  • Withdrawn from Memory, 8 pieces 26" x 20" each
  • With(drawn) from Memory
    (With) Drawn from Memory, 8 pieces 26" x 20" each

Withdrawn from Memory, 2009

Drawing series in two parts, mixed media

Withdrawn From Memory is a series of drawings that explores the role of memory in translating an image from cognition to realization. Research sessions with my grandmother Rhoda, an 89-year-old woman with progressing dementia, test notions of the speculative versus the perceptive in contemporary drawing, and question what can be created when memory is virtually absent.

In one-on-one drawing sessions, Rhoda and I drew objects that were once familiar to her. The documentation of the research includes photographs of three objects we drew, with my drawings from sight (which were nearly identical to my drawings from memory), as well as her drawings both from sight, and from memory. The sessions were recorded, and fragments of our conversations are also included. As much as a test of the role memory plays in carrying the object from sight to brain to hand, it was also an overall test of where my grandmother stood in her illness.

The drawings created as a result of my work with her include reproductions of her drawings and my own, as well as photographs of the objects, and of Rhoda. The over-lapping, fragmented imagery and text attempt to speak for Rhoda's own mental fragmentation - her world, her emotions and her frustrations - in a way that she no longer can. While much of her life, and memory, is gone, her ability to imagine the objects as she wanted to see them still remained, and she possessed a freedom from perceptive constraints. Without preconceived ideas of form or perspective, she drew as she wanted to.