Generational trauma is most often triggered and noticed within the third-generation of families. This means that the trauma my grandparents went through can be seen in me, and the trauma my father went through would show in my children. I have an intense urge to decorate and transform the spaces around me. It makes me feel safer and more in control within my own trauma.
Within trauma comes an intense feeling of feeling unsafe and needing to be in control – often irrationally. Holocaust survivor parents were often overwhelmed by the survival struggle, always uncertain of the safety of themselves and their families. Through generational-trauma one must be compassionate and understanding, there is still a lot to be explored on the topic.
I have related my own families’ experience with generational trauma and how it has affected my life and art practice. I have been exploring my family trauma for a long time now, it has been essential to understanding the intense unexplainable feelings I have that affect my daily life. I have always used art as a way of expression, and I have found that working with hoarding has enabled me to further my artistic understanding of the subject, as well as being empathetic to others and their own generational trauma. These scars are often invisible and people do not have words to explain them. I have immense emotional attachments to objects with which I have memories.
When I see objects that have been thrown away but look useful I take them out of the trash or street and repurpose them. An intense urge to protect comes over me when I see things that do not have a home. I decided to give into the impulse I have to collect, and spread a call out by mouth and social media to anyone who wanted to relieve some of their hoard onto me- this was severely overwhelming, and I often felt it difficult to even look at the amount of stuff I had collected because of a deep sense of guilt. Luckily I snapped out of that self-detrimental cycle and started to transform the collection of goods into different curations of work through an element of play. One of which is the all too well-known pile of clothes on a chair, another is a collection of toys and a fan- objects given by parents who said their kids grew out of the toys- from this to vibrators, music boxes and teeth – there is a huge contrast between donated objects.
Within the hoard I have also discovered a sense of play, playing with the objects around me, knowing that it is not my collection but the collections of others, ones that they have trustingly given to me for creation, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, as they say. When a box is closed, you can only imagine its contents. A deep urge to look inside to discover the objects inside.
A common visual aspect of a hoard that comes to mind is boxes. Boxes with contents that have been put away, containing the hoard. By hiding the hoard a sense of relief is found – your belongings are safe and stored – but what happens when you leave the hoard within the boxes? The relief is temporary and you box yourself in and become buried by your own collections. The contents of the box frames are deeply personal. Through the box frames, unlike the boxes – you can see the hoard inside. Through trauma I have collected many objects that remind me that I am a survivor.