encaustic on plywood
14 x 13 in.
By the time I finished high school, my family endured separation, divorce, suicide and two rapes. The three survivors emerged with internal damage and pain that seemed incurable. It has taken time and experience for me to understand what we actually confronted in the 1950’s and 60’s: “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” were America’s TV favorites. Family dynamics were not generally understood then, and psychological therapy was out of the financial reach of my family. I had no option but to begin adulthood feeling as if there was something called normal human life and whatever it was, I was isolated from it.
At age 52 (and as my own children are starting to leave the family), I have started to look back and address the emotional maelstrom of my family of origin in my encaustic paintings. While some works are about the general family atmosphere of rage and upheaval, pieces such as “Whore Eternal” address specific events and consequences, as I understand them today.
© Shelley Gilchrist