16x20 resin coated
My grandfather - my mom's dad, Papa Cliff we called him - was notorious for giving terrible directions and insisting they were highly secretive and successful routes to wherever we were trying to go. My father always believed him and also had a flair for a bad shortcut - and in some way added his own twist. One of my very first memories of terror was when we watched Harry and the Hendersons. I was probably about 4. He gave us a shortcut. It had been pouring rain and all of the roads were through dark woods. I was convinced the monster from the movie was going to jump out and crush our car.
Three years later, I was seven. We were visiting Florida, Fort Myers. My grandparents lived in Port St. Lucie. The plan was to drive to Port. St. Lucie to surprise them. My Dad took a shortcut through Lake Okeechobee.
I thought we were going to die. I remember it being a one-lane dirt road. Wild boars walking around in the grass - there were hawks and ravens circling the car. Bright green swamp water on both sides of the road, tall, thick amber trees, most of them looked dead. The canopy of green was so thick you could only make out tiny segments of bright sunlight and the misty blue of the sky. I remember the thick humidity despite the ac in the car and the smell of rotting wood.
My Dad never acted scared, he’d only laugh and tell my sister and me to look out for alligators. I always had a deep fear of getting lost - I believe this shortcut is what created it. I thought it was an adventure then, I was afraid but I didn’t realize the seriousness of it. Later on, I overheard my Dad telling his friends we would have all been goners if the car had run out of gas, that at any moment he didn’t know if we’d get stuck in the mud, and that there was no way on the tiny dirt road to turn around without driving into the swamp.
I live my life within another life now, thirty years later. I am often in reflection of the smallest moments. I take the colors and movement of my memory and put it on a canvas, tell a story, and let it reconnect as a physical portrait that I have created. Do you see the unicorn in this canvas? To me she is a horse, running through that swamp. Probably the same angel that guided us through in the first place.