Work samples

  • The Elements Speak Love

    The Elements Speak Love (Carla)

    From the series 'Human Icons'.

    acrylic, colored pencil and graphite mounted on 3 wooden panels, 30"x45"

    Available for Purchase
  • Painted Stories

    Painted Stories, 60 mixed media portraits, is built in the shape of a large structure. These are real people. Each portrait has a story of my time with the model written on the back. Here's an example of one of the stories:

    "Another Saturday painting Jenn in her butterfly dress, sitting so calmly, no boys, no noise. I added 'hydrogen', the first element, to Jenn's portrait. Her home life was, from the telling of it, like a time bomb... highly flammable like hydrogen. Somehow, she balanced those realities... the calm, the ticking bomb and the butterfly."

  • Tearing Prayers

    My grandmother, mother and aunts recited daily rosaries into their 80’s and 90’s. Their hands worked a well-worn path from the crucifix to the first few beads, around the loop and back. They prayed, paced and rocked. They prayed while vacuuming, making sauce, changing diapers. Prayers, were in their DNA.   

    I started tearing arrows from old paintings and to-do lists during the 2015 uprisings in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. In heartbreak, I was reminded of the women with their rosaries and my own childhood laps around the beads. For me, tearing arrows has become a form of prayer. I continue to make them. There will always be people and places needing love.

    My grandmother's sauce pot, paint, ink, graphite, colored pencil, marker, paper

  • Sewn Figures installation

    The sewn figures parallel my painting and mixed media processes. Stitching is drawing, fabric is paint and attached objects create layers. Through collecting, sorting and valuing, materials headed for the landfill are sewn together to make something whole again. Each figure is made entirely from discarded and re-purposed materials except for thread, paint and some beads on the faces. Materials have included: electric toothbrush rings, gift bag handles, shoelaces, broken costume jewelry, hospital socks, old beads and buttons, rosaries and medals of saints, graduation tassels, sequins, leather scraps, fabric and yarn. Everything is hand sewn with a simple looping stitch.

    Sizes and materials vary, 21"-27" tall

About Gina

Baltimore City

In everything she undertakes, mixed-media artist Gina Pierleoni brings individual elements together to create a more cohesive and loving whole.  Most of the series she creates are ongoing and have been in process for over 30 years.

Her portrait installations feature real people, gathered together as a community or congregation. Old paintings are reworked in larger configurations for Human Icons that record a transformative… more

Mixed Media Portraits

I use portraiture to spark conversations about empathy and our common humanity.  The opposite of assumption, these images attempt to push past label and judgments; they seek to "de-separate" us.  My portrait installations feature real people, brought together as a community or congregation.

The portraits are created over weeks, months and years, each lovingly realized.  I start with a model, paying close attention to impressions and our conversations.  Both form the heart of the piece.  My goal is to honor each person.

After our time together, I continue alone recalling as much as possible about the sitter and our time together.  The remainder of what happens is intuited.  I draw, paint, scratch into, collage. Hand-made stencils and stamps create additional layers. Gender, race and age sometimes blur.  Figures emerge from long histories of surfaces and ghosted images.  These are real people, alive, changing, vulnerable and genuine.

  • Portraits #142 & #243

    Backs of Paintings

    #142 (left) oil, acrylic and graphite on paper mounted on wooden panel, 22"x10"x1.5"

    In my years of portrait painting, I have had a surprising number of models named Jen, Jenn and Jenny.  This Jenny had magnificent bangs and she was very proud of them.  This Jenny also had a quick mind, interested in all kinds of things. I imagined her bangs warmed her thoughts and kept them from spilling over.  At one point in reworking this piece, the Madonna with the Long Neck painting was on my mind so I painted Jenny with her neck elongated and the length it was.

    2002: Started at Phil’s studio over top of the painting ‘XO’.

    2016: Expand to 2 panels. (Left one added.)  2017: Top with oil paint.

    2023: More oil paint added, neck lengthened.

  • Bevin and Grace
  • Sample stories on the backs of portraits
  • Anything

    Back of Painting

    #288 acrylic, charcoal, graphite, ink and colored pencil on paper mounted on wooden panel, 22”x10”x1.5”

    This was an enlargement of a sketch done on the Green 6 subway.  This person was unaware that I was, in a sense, invading their space.  The larger paper was discarded by Layne, a Drawing 2 student whose work was better than she knew.  I created the figure from those lines and added more lines to visually represent ways we hold ourselves back. (Hem ourselves in.) Beside are words… becoming, transforming, shaping, morphing, learning, etc… agents of change.

    Even more lines were added in 2022. Then this thought:

             And the day came when to step forward was much easier than to step back.

  • The Elements Speak Love

    The Elements Speak Love

    From the series 'Human Icons'.

    acrylic, colored pencil and graphite mounted on 3 wooden panels, 30"x45"

    Available for Purchase
  • Portraits #315 & #72

    Backs of Paintings

    #315 (left) acrylic, pastel, colored pencil, marker and hand-cut stamps on paper mounted on wooden panel, 22”x10”x1.5”

    The upper self-portrait was started in the late 1990’s. I could never get it quite right.  Just in time my future self (2023) comes back (compassionately so) for my 38-year-old self.  It seems like –finally—but future self was there all along.

    Consolidating the hard moments of younger life (parenting, working, making art, growing myself) and tucking them into metaphorical pockets for safekeeping, consolidation, self-acceptance.

    #72 (right) acrylic, colored pencil, ink, hand cut stamp, torn old paintings and to-do lists on paper mounted on wooden panel, 22"x9"x1.5"

  • Matthew, Jen and Me
  • Portraits #27 & #314

    Backs of Paintings

    #27 (left), acrylic, graphite, colored pencil, ink and hand-cut stamps on paper mounted on wooden panel, 22”x10”x1.5”

    Started as a self-portrait in 1997.  Mother of a 3-year-old.  Can I do this well?  2005, try again.  2006 try again. 

    2015 – Add another quick self-portrait that looks more like the tomboy that lives with my female self inside.  Thinking about windows into wisdom.  A glimpse of being on the right track.  I have an 11-year-old son now.  Still home schooling. I have more practice and I keep trying to do it all wells, all the roles.  It’s hard.  Keep painting and trying to be a good mother.  Oh, and a wife (and sometimes nursemaid) too.  And a professor.

  • Self Portrait
  • Portraits #171 & #285

Birds

I've always loved birds.  In the last few years however, they've become a lifeline.  My husband passed a few weeks before everything shut down with COVID. The more things devolved, the more I turned to birds for solace.  I watched for them, listened to their conversations and trusted that no matter what happened, nests would continue to be made, baby birds would be born, and one day leave their nests.

No matter what happens in the world, I continue to find solace in the presence of birds.  And they continue to find a place in my paintings.
 

 

  • Percolation Pose

    Percolation Pose

    (from the Human Icon series)

    The less I understand about where people go after their bodies die, the more credence I give to the birds as intermediaries between worlds, as though they don't recognize a dividing line.  Birds will continue to find a place in my paintings.

    Acrylic, graphite, colored pencil, hand-cut stamps and stencils on paper, 52”x 42”, 2023

    Available for Purchase
  • Unfolding

    Unfolding

    acrylic, graphite and colored pencil on paper, 42"x26"

    Available for Purchase
  • Inhalation

    Inhalation

    acrylic, charcoal and pastel on paper

  • Come and Go

    “Come and Go”, inspired by my painting class, became our circle as if we were meeting in person. There’s a bowl for each student. Bowls are symbolic of giving and receiving. Birds dip into the circle and fly away in different directions. The horizon line grounds the group.

    acrylic, graphite, marker and colored pencil 31"x45"

  • Up

    Up

    acrylic, graphite, colored pencil and hand-cut stencils on paper, 30"x22"

  • Navigating Tendrils

    The stuff of life: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, beauty / The words we say to ourselves and others / Birds nesting, fledging, holding on, letting go

    oil, acrylic, graphite and hand-cut stamps on paper, 21"x21.5"

  • This Moment is Every Moment

    This Moment is Every Moment

    (from the Human Icon series)

    acrylic, charcoal, marker and graphite on paper, 30"x44"

    Available for Purchase
  • Portraits #147 and #309

    Portraits #147 & #309

    acrylic, oil, graphite, ink, colored pencil, torn old paintings and to-do lists on paper, 22"x10" each

  • Home Care

    Home Care

    acrylic, graphite, colored pencil and hand-cut stencils and stamps on paper, 42"x26"

  • Installation including several Bird paintings

    Installation including several Bird paintings.

More Mixed Media Portraits

My mixed media paintings are created over weeks, months and years, each lovingly realized.  I start with a model, paying close attention to impressions and our conversations.  Both form the heart of the piece.  After our time together, I continue alone recalling as much as possible about the sitter and our time together.  The remainder of what happens is intuited.  I draw, paint, scratch into, collage. Hand-made stencils and stamps create additional layers. Gender, race and age sometimes blur.  Figures emerge from long histories of surfaces and ghosted images.  These are real people, alive, changing, vulnerable and genuine.

 

  • Portraits #155 & #183
  • Liz and Me
    Liz and Me oil, acrylic, ink, marker, colored pencil and graphite on paper 22"x19"
  • Pods
  • Painted Stories
    Painted Stories is 60 mixed media portraits built as a large structure. Most portraits feature real people and each portrait has a story written on the back of the panel. Here's an example of one of the stories: "Another Saturday painting Jenn in her butterfly dress, sitting so calmly, no boys, no noise. I added 'hydrogen', the first element, to Jenn's portrait. Her home life was, from the telling of it, like a time bomb... highly flammable like hydrogen. Somehow, she balanced those realities... the calm, the ticking bomb and the butterfly.
  • Thea (with Bevin hidden), Gale and Laura
    oil, acrylic, colored pencil, graphite, ink and torn paintings on paper approximately 21"x9" each
  • #269, #231 & #280
    acrylic, oil, ball point pen, graphite on paper Each panel is approximately 22"x9.5"
  • Luminous

    Luminous (Myles)

    from the Human Icons series

    acrylic, graphite, marker and colored pencil on paper 30"x22"

  • #270, #274 & #264 (all Kyle)
    acrylic, oil, graphite, ink, colored pencil and torn paintings on paper Each panel is approximately 22"x9.5"
  • Transmission
    “Transmission” considers connection, communication and isolation during the pandemic as inhaling and exhaling at close range is risky. One of ‘the gifts of COVID-19’ is discovering alternate ways to cultivate community and practice self-leadership. Though physically separated from one another, we continue to share experiences, exchange ideas, images and support. acrylic, graphite, marker and colored pencil on paper 31"x22.5"
  • LED Board, Baltimore

Sewn Figures

The sewn figures parallel my painting and mixed media processes.  Stitching is drawing, fabric is paint, and attached objects create layers. Through collecting, sorting  and valuing, materials headed for the landfill are sewn together to make something whole again.

Each figure is made entirely from discarded and re-purposed materials (except for thread and paint). Materials have included: electric toothbrush rings, gift bag handles, any small things with holes in them, shoelaces, broken costume jewelry, hospital socks, old beads and buttons, rosaries and medals of saints, graduation tassels, sequins, leather scraps, fabric and yarn. Everything is sewn together with a simple looping stitch.

  • Taproot

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread.

    25"x10"x6"

  • Happenstance

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread and beads.

    24"x12"x5"

  • Velveteen

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread.

    23"x8"x6"

  • Broken Rosary

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread and beads.

    21"x14"x8"

  • A Particular Direction

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread and beads.

    22"x12"x5"

    Available for Purchase
  • A Particular Direction (detail)
  • Untitled

    21"x12"x8"

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread and beads.

  • My Pajama Pants

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread.

    22"x13"x5"

  • SewnFigures

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread. Sizes vary.

    Sewn Figures installation at 'Unfolding', Stevenson University Greenspring Campus, MD

    Available for Purchase
  • Glisten

    Hand-sewn figure made from 100% recycled and repurposed materials excluding thread and breads.

    Available for Purchase

Tearing Prayers, Arrows, and Video Interviews

My grandmother, mother and aunts recited daily rosaries into their 80’s and 90’s.  Their hands worked a well-worn path from the crucifix to the first few beads, around the loop and back. They prayed, paced and rocked.  They prayed while vacuuming, making sauce, changing diapers. Prayers, were in their DNA. 
 

I started tearing arrows from  old paintings and to-do lists during the 2015 uprisings in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  In heartbreak, I was reminded of the women with their rosaries and my own childhood laps around the beads.  For me, tearing arrows has become a form of prayer.  I continue to make them.  There will always be people and places needing love.

The arrow paintings and installations represent emphasis, attention, inner wisdom, a choice and the power of individuals and groups to create change together. 

Three video interviews are part of the“Motivation on Monday” series by Myles Banks of Just Stunt Productions. 

 

  • Distilled (1/2"or smaller)

    Distilled, begun several years ago, is an ongoing group of tiny (1/2"or smaller) hand-torn arrows.  Like the larger arrows, they are prayers for people and places.  These arrows are harder to tear because of their size so I spend more time with them.  Small can be powerful.

    acrylic, marker, colored pencil, graphite on paper

  • Tearing Prayers
    My grandmother, mother and aunts recited daily rosaries into their 80’s and 90’s. Their hands worked a well-worn path from the crucifix to the first few beads, around the loop and back. They prayed, paced and rocked. They prayed while vacuuming, making sauce, changing diapers. Prayers, were in their DNA. I started tearing arrows from old paintings and to-do lists during the 2015 uprisings in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. In heartbreak, I was reminded of the women with their rosaries and my own childhood laps around the beads. For me, tearing arrows has become a form of prayer. I continue to make them. There will always be people and places needing love.
  • Urgent
    Urgent calls attention to the objects we use and rituals we perform on a daily basis. 10“x8”x1.5”, acrylic, ink and torn-up old paintings on panel
  • Surround Sound
    Surround Sound This painting was created following the death of a family member. In the moment of passing senses are elevated, time stands still. 22“x10”x1.5”, acrylic, ink, colored pencil, marker, graphite, and torn old paintings and to-do lists on paper mounted on wooden panel
  • Wedge
    Wedge is the potential power of a group when they move in one direction. acrylic, ink, colored pencil, graphite, marker, old torn paintings, to-do lists and arrows on panel 12"x12"x1.5"
  • Ear to the Ground
    Ear to the Ground This piece focuses on individual choices made that together form a multitude and a less than straight path. acrylic, ink, colored pencil, graphite, hand torn arrows, plastic sleeves, clothes pins and line size variable
  • Jarred Loose
    7“x62”x24”, acrylic, ink, colored pencil, graphite, marker, hand-torn arrows from old paintings and to-do lists, glass jars
  • Untitled Flag exhibit interview with Myles Banks
  • Reframing Your Mind
    This video, part of a series called “Motivation on Monday”, was filmed and edited by Myles Banks of Just Stunt Productions. Being willing to have conversations is another possibilty for coming together.
  • Your Thoughts Are Powerful
    This video, part of a series called “Motivation on Monday”, was filmed and edited by Myles Banks of Just Stunt Productions. Being willing to have conversations is another possibility for coming together.

Painting Rag Shirts

Painting Rag Shirts

I’m making parallel sets of paintings: one intentional, the other created from what’s left behind.  My painting rags have accumulated for over 40 years, a byproduct of wiping paint, blending it, and cleaning hand-cut stencil and stamps. My palette has changed many times over the years.  Without any conscious effort, these cut up T-shirts rags become paintings.

The pieces are sorted into short and long sleeves, bottom edges, necklines and middle sections.  A simple, visible hand-sewn looping stitch brings all the pieces together, unearthing their another T-shirt and implying the figure inside.  

Some pieces like My Father’s Last Shirt are memorials.  Fur Shirt is a collection of hundreds of small rag trimmings that together created unexpected billowing results. 

There are so many things we give up on because we can’t envision the potential and inherent beauty in them: things, places, each other. For me, these former rags create an opportunity for embracing history, possibility and transformation.

  • The Music

    Someone gave me an old, tattered Pink Floyd T-shirt I knew I'd never wear.  Though the band and Dark Side of the Moon were part of my coming of age, it became a studio rag instantly.  When searching for just the right scraps for a new shirt, I came across Pink Floyd again.  I had to put a little piece on the image front and back, to create a place for the music.

  • M
    Painting rags reassembled and sewn back together, acrylic and thread on cotton fabric
  • Literal Timeline

    When I was piecing this shirt together, I noticed the scraps were from different years based on my changing palette.  I started dating each scrap from the 1980's, 90's, 2000's and beyond.  Once the shirt was sewn together, I wanted to amplify the timeline of the paintings that made the rags. Arrows point to each year.

  • Last Shirt
    2 weeks before my father died, it became difficult to get T-shirts over his head and my mother cut the fronts for easier access. In this shirt, I created something to honor his transition, using a stone wall to describe his dying process. Stones are laid strong and firm. They protect us and mark where we are. Over time, stones fall down changing the shape of the wall. There is also an image of a lion on the front of the shirt. My father's last name (and mine) Pierleoni, means "father of the lion." Painting rags reassembled and sewn back together, acrylic and thread on cotton fabric
  • Layer Cake

    All I can think of when I look at this shirt is a layer cake.  I'm reminded of the awkward layer cakes I made as a kid in my Easy Bake oven.  I served them proudly, cut into 11 tiny pieces.

  • Ay

    The face on this shirt was originally on another T-shirt that wore out along the armpits and sleeves.  I couldn't let my stencil portrait go, so I turned the image into part of the Painting Rag Shirts series, breathing new life into it again.

  • Earth Stars

    This shirt is mainly comprised of my two former favorite studio shirts, one long sleeved and one sleeveless.  I was making word painting stamps, so 'earth' and 'stars' appear on the shirt in places.  While cleaning the stamps, the words transferred to the shirt.

  • Fur Shirt

    As an avid collector and recycler, it is difficult to throw away the littlest scraps, especially when they are so beautiful. The Fur Shirt was created by individually and obsessively sewing hundreds of strands of painting rags onto a shirt made of reassembled painting rags. The shirt refers to fur because the many layers create a thick, billowing effect. Painting rags reassembled and sewn back together, acrylic and thread on cotton fabric

  • Painting Rag Shirts Rolled Up

    Here are some of the Rag Shirts rolled up for storage.  They remind me of colorful sardines.

  • Mystic

    Every once in a while, my family would pile into the station wagon and head to Mystic, Connecticut for a day trip.  With 9 kids, there weren't enough seats so the 2 youngest sat sideways with legs overlapping in what was probably a storage area. 

    While making this shirt, I was remembering the times all 11 of us squeezed into whatever station wagon we had at the time. Assigned seating was the rule whether we were going to church or to Long Island to visit my mother's parents who lived in an apartment above a gas station, our two most frequent destinations.

    I drew a seating chart map on the bottom of the shirt.

What Makes Us (Us) portrait installation

Gina Pierleoni: What Makes Us (Us)
at Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD
 
Exhibition Statement
Everyone deserves to be seen and heard.
 
Over the past 26 years, I created nearly 300 portraits of people across the spectrum of familiarity. These images push past labels and judgements as they question perception, habit, and bias in how we place ourselves in relation to others. What Makes Us (Us) is the first time nearly the entire series has been displayed in one place.  

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I frequently sketched commuters and the homeless population inside Grand Central Station in New York.  Sometimes I would have a conversation that resulted in the person asking to have their portrait drawn. The volunteers were almost exclusively homeless. I offered the drawing as a thank you for our time together. The more I showed up, the more people would ask me to draw them. The deeper the connection, the closer the image resembled the sitter.

During the same years, I bartended at a train station lounge. Some of the regulars were Vietnam veterans, who shared their struggles to reintegrate. Their compassion for one another regardless of rank was touching. Drawing portraits of them created conversations. I noticed parallel shame and invisibility among the homeless and veterans.

Sketching became a form of advocacy. I didn’t imagine these drawings would one day provide a gateway to my own healing, form the central philosophy for my teaching and community building, and build a platform for the art I cared about making.

When the series began, I made several drawings of my voice.  The first portraits, emotionally raw unearthings, used mostly charcoal lines. The process was physical, empowering.  Each year I added more portraits.  The pieces were reworked over months, years until the images came alive. Using a similar scale created an absence of hierarchy.

I use portraiture to spark conversations about empathy and our common humanity.  Portrait painting demands curiosity, stillness and deep observation. My portraits are multi-layered: drawn, painted, scratched into, stamped and stenciled under, over and through the surfaces. I am painting from the inside out to convey the emotional fabric of someone, in addition to how they look. These are real people, alive, changing, genuine and vulnerable.”
 

 
 


  • What Makes Us (Us)
  • What Makes Us (Us) installation
    What Makes Us (Us) installation at Creative Alliance featuring 241 portraits
  • What Makes Us (Us) installation detail
    What Makes Us (Us) installed at Creative Alliance detail
  • Making Conversations
    Following an artist talk, 'Making Conversation' premiered during the run of 'What Makes Us (US)'. An original performance, it featured four local musicians who had never played together: Benny Russell, Helen Yuen, Cliff Giles and Sera Bailey-Emberson. Using long pieces of bamboo with chalk stuffed in one end, audience participants drew on the gallery floor inspired by the improvisational sounds they heard.
  • What Makes Us (Us) detail
    #115 (pictured center) Another Saturday painting Jenn in her butterfly dress, sitting so calmly, no boys, no noise. I added ‘hydrogen’, the first element to Jenn’s portrait. Her home life was, from the telling of it, a time bomb… highly flammable like hydrogen. Somehow she balanced those realities… the calm, the ticking bomb, and the butterfly. Each portrait in the installation has notes written on the reverse side. They reference the sitter, the process or what was going on at the time the painting was made. In this installation of over 240 portraits, about 15 paintings had text revealed.
  • What Makes Us (Us) detail
    "#275 (pictured center right) This painting came from thinking about thinking, what the mind looks like engaged, overstimulated and then perfectly still, satisfied. Each portrait in the installation has notes written on the reverse side. They reference the sitter, the process or what was going on at the time the painting was made. In this installation of over 240 portraits, about 15 paintings had text revealed.
  • What Makes Us (Us) detail
    #7 (pictured center right) Self Portrait, direct, matter of fact with Trane's wild 3-year old lines telling a whole other story. Collaboration is a good thing. It stretches us in unpredictable ways." Each portrait in the installation has notes written on the reverse side. They reference the sitter, the process or what was going on at the time the painting was made. In this installation of over 240 portraits, about 15 paintings had text revealed.
  • What Makes Us (Us) detail
    #287 (pictured center) The background triangles were made in 1980 at CNR in NY, part of a larger painting. I added Steve in 2002 then tore him in half in 2016. Trust: above triangles Control: below triangles Washed over like water in 2018 Each portrait in the installation has notes written on the reverse side. They reference the sitter, the process or what was going on at the time the painting was made. In this installation of over 240 portraits, about 15 paintings had text revealed.
  • What Makes Us (Us) detail
    #28 (pictured center right) From the collection of Mary Alice McGurrin (Rest in Peace). Mary Alice bought 10 raffle tickets in 1999 helping me to raise money to go to Florence, Italy where I was part of the Florence Biennale. Her ticket was a winner and she chose this painting. The piece came back to me after she died. I added extra detail on the mouth in 2017 because her words and actions were so sweet and loving. Each portrait in the installation has notes written on the reverse side. They reference the sitter, the process or what was going on at the time the painting was made. In this installation of over 240 portraits, about 15 paintings had text revealed.
  • Interview with Gina Pierleoni
    Video interview of Gina Pierleoni at the opening of What Makes Us (Us) at Creative Alliance.

Forgetting Memory

 

My mother, a healthy and active 86 year-old, developed an infection which traveled to her brain. Overninght, she was completely transformed, bed ridden and frail. Initially, she was only able to say a handful of phrases which, strung together, seemed meaningless: “You know”, "Wow”, and “I was thinking “.  Every once in a while she had moments of startling clarity.

In the next few months, she rebounded and  learned to walk with a walker. Her ability to speak returned but her memory was dramatically impacted. She asked questions like, “Was I a good mother?” and “Was I a good wife?”   She didn't remember all of her 9 children unless she named them from oldest to youngest. My parents had been married for over 50 years but she'd misplaced her memories of  him.  It was as if the files in her brain had been randomly ransacked and areas were deleted or mismatched.  

In many ways, she was more content because she didn't remember what troubled her in the past. My mother became funnier, even to herself, asking questions like, “What do you call the thing with two holes?”  I replied, “Pants?” She called her walker a wagon and most of the time was OK with her mix-ups. It was game we played of remembering and sometimes I got the answers right.

These drawings reflect the space between my mother's mind before and after, memory and forgetting, the frustration of losing something you can’t find again, and the playful moments that sometimes happen when loss is treated like an adventure.
 

  • Chatter
  • Forgetting Memory
    Forgetting Memory My mother, a healthy, active 86-year old, developed an infection which traveled to her brain. She was completely transformed, bed ridden and frail. Initially, she was only able to say a handful of phrases which, strung together, seemed meaningless: “You know”, "Wow”, and “I was thinking.” Every once in a while, she had moments of startling clarity. In the next few months, she rebounded and learned to walk with a walker. Her ability to speak returned but her memory was dramatically impacted. She asked questions like, “Was I a good mother?” and “Was I a good wife?” She didn't remember all of her 9 children unless she named them from oldest to youngest. My parents had been married for over 50 years but she'd misplaced her memories of him. It was as if the files in her brain had been randomly ransacked and areas were deleted or mismatched. In many ways, she was more content because she didn't remember what troubled her in the past.
  • Forgetting Memory
    from the series Forgetting Memory acrylic, marker, ball point pen and typed paper on paper 7"x5"
  • Bird Watching
    acrylic, ink and photograph on paper 5"x14"
  • Sisters
    from the Forgetting Memory series 5"x14" acrylic, graphite, ink, thread, fabric on paper
  • Packing
    from the series Forgetting Memory acrylic, marker and graphite on paper 5"x7"
  • Questions
    acrylic, ink and graphite on paper 10"x16"
  • Beads
  • The List
  • Crazy?

Statues for My Father

After my father died, my mother handed me a stack of his funeral cards and said, "Why don't you make something from these?"  The cards honor his name (Gino Pierleoni, so close to mine), birth/death dates and the images and religious practice that was important to him.  I wondered whether there would be a point during the alteration process when these religious figures might no longer be considered sacred. As the images transformed from Jesus, Mary and the Saints to become regular people, the images remained sacred.

The final pieces are mounted on wood, freestanding like statues.

  • Daughter of the Lions
    mixed media, torn paintings and to-do lists on paper mounted on wood approximately 9"x2.5"x1"
  • Modern Mary
    mixed media on paper mounted on wood approximately 12"x4"x1"
  • Four Statues
    mixed media on paper mounted on wood Each statue is approximately: 8.5"x2.5"x1"
  • Self Portrait
    mixed media on paper mounted on wood approximately: 8.5"x2.5"x1"
  • Statues installation
    Statue installation mixed media on paper mounted on wood and placed on shelves each approximately 9"x3"x1"
  • Do Not Look Outside Yourself
    mixed media and torn paintings on paper mounted on wood approximately 10"x2.5"x1"
  • The Black Pants
    mixed media on paper mounted on wood 8.5"x2""x1"
  • Three Statues
    mixed media on paper mounted on wood End statues are approximately: 8.5"x2.5"x1"
  • St. Patrick Pointing
    mixed media and torn paintings on paper mounted on wood approximately 10"x4"x1"
  • St. Theresa
    mixed media and torn paintings on paper mounted on wood approximately 10"x2"x1"