My husband went grey very quickly during a stressful period, as presidents sometimes do in their first term. He grew self conscious and started referring to them, only half jokingly, as beige hairs. I kissed his temples, the beige epicenter, my lips always finding a home in the soft indentation that smelled of him. He was growing older, as I hoped he would continue to do for many more decades in my company, and what a blessing it is to watch time moving across your favorite person on earth.
At the time, I was interested in art as an act of devotion, and that’s where this piece came from: I will take what you dislike about yourself, I will give it my loving attention, I will hold it up to the light.
Every six weeks for a year, when my husband shaved his head, he collected the trimmings for me. With a tweezer, I hand sorted out the beige hairs from the brown ones.
After ten years together, I was still deeply in love with my husband. I still coveted him. I think of an early spoken word tape I have of Henry Rollins where he describes being so taken with someone that you want to rip your hand off just so you can give it to them. That’s how I felt. I wanted to collect my husband, to put him in a jar and put him on the shelf so I could admire him all day long. I designed the glass vessel to echo the form of a canopic jar, which the Egyptians used to store the mummified organs of important people. A jar for the heart. A jar for the lungs. A jar for the stomach.
The great Andy Paiko working on the vessel.
Our marriage ended suddenly while I was in the middle of working on the piece. After a few months, during which I couldn’t bear to even think about the piece, I decided to finish it. What began as an act of devotion transformed into an act of commemoration. A jar for the last year of our marriage.
At my most beautiful
I count your eyelashes secretly.
with every one, whisper I love you.
I let you sleep.
I know your closed eye watching me,
I thought I saw a smile.