Alex Skazat: Children, Flowers and the People I Love

 
 
2008

When I was Twenty, quite suddenly, a series of unfortunate events happened upon my family and I was left as a young adult without a nucleus to tie my family together anymore. Going to various funerals, funeral "parties", hospitals and extended families, people - emotional, that's obvious, would let me know of just a few of the skeletons that were hanging in the family closet. I was never told any of these secrets before, mostly because I was so young - the youngest in the family.

They were devastating to me. The tragedies that had just unfolded now seemed preventable. If only I knew. It also chopped off any sort of anchor I had to the reality that I thought was the family I grew up around and all the memories I had from my childhood seemed invalidated. Even the reasoning on why I had been born came as a shock. None of the details are within my personal etiquette to discuss to anyone but very close personal friends.

A few years later, my Sister gave me a shoebox filled with nothing but snapshots of myself. My Brother got a shoebox of pictures of only himself, my other Sister got a shoebox of pictures as well. It took me practically years to open the box. I wanted to wait until I found someone to share what I knew would be silly, personal, memorable and most definitely, family moments with. I never really did find someone. I finally lost my fear and opened the damn box.

These snapshots - mostly taken with 110 film in a cheap camera, fading with age and lack of care, badly in focus and smudged with many fingers' fingerprints are the only real evidence that I even had a childhood. Everything else is essentially gone. I haven't been able to look at these pictures, without examining the differences between the innocent memories I have in my mind that are quickly dissolving, the casual scenes the pictures show off and what was really happening to my family during these times.

The pen and ink drawings on watercolor in this show are all drawn using the photographs in that shoebox as references. My attempt is not for you to find the hidden menace behind the smiles, but to celebrate the smiles themselves. These drawings are as innocent as I was, when I was as young as the pictures show. Drawing is a form of study and drawing these photographs is a way for me to help myself remember just a little more of my childhood, myself and my past. The photographs have been mostly shot by my Mother and these drawings are the closet thing to a collaboration I can currently do with her. The drawings that are titled, "Untitled", are followed by the description on the back of the photograph, as written by my Mother.