Mt.A student dedicates exhibit to family member.
One of the most recent additions to Sackville’s artistic and cultural portfolio was unveiled last Thursday, March 8, at START gallery. An enthusiastic group of students, family, and Sackville residents gathered for the opening of Chelsea Poole’s exhibit, entitled Remember Me (Italicize). Chelsea is from Green Bay, Prince Edward Island, and is a fourth year fine arts student at Mount Allison. Poole’s exhibit is a heartfelt tribute to the memory of her mother, Tammy Lynne Moore Poole, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away in October of 2003.
The exhibit consists of ten models of cancer cells suspended from the ceiling, with a shrine to Tammy Poole’s memory located on the far wall, where she is represented by a portrait, letters, and a handmade book documenting stories and experiences from Poole’s childhood. As one walks between the dangling cells to approach the memoirs, one can almost feel that they are moving past the reality of Tammy’s terminal cancer to emerge into the deeper memory of her being that has been preserved and presented by the young artist. Additionally, the lights have been arranged in a way that causes the hanging models to project shadows upon the blank walls of the exhibit, with the brightest spotlight reserved for the drawn portrait of Poole’s mother.
Poole noted the significant difference between experiencing past events and recalling them in a more recent context. She elaborated upon the filtering effect that the mind has upon memories of a family member or loved one, leaving only the most positive and meaningful memories intact. “I couldn’t even think of a single bad experience,” she recalled as she reflected upon the process of conceptualizing and creating her artistic memoir. She also explained that one of the most challenging aspects of losing a family member is the loss of access to a mother’s valuable answers to life’s questions. “Most people can turn to their mothers if they have questions,” said Poole. “The hardest thing is looking back and realizing she can never answer the questions I had both then and now.”
Poole estimated that she spent over two hundred hours on the entire project. For the models of cancer cells, she painstakingly felted vast amounts of different coloured wools that she later used to cover wire frames. In addition, the paper used in her book of memories and childhood stories is completely made from scratch, and the stories themselves were printed individually on each page with a typewriter. She also did extensive research on cancer cells in order to represent them in this medium. “I was actually kind of annoyed because they were so beautiful,” she comments. “It’s amazing that something so brightly coloured can be so destructive.”
Poole’s most valuable qualities as an artist are her diligence, dedication, and thorough understanding of memory and the human mind. This achievement will not conclude Poole’s artistic career, and we can look forward to seeing more manifestations of her talent in Sackville and beyond. I believe that Poole’s mother would be extremely proud.