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Masks (Fall Away)
Verneda Lights

Masks (Fall Away)



Title: Masks (Fall Away)
Year: 2017
Size: 12.1x15 inches.
Technique: Digital photography, digital painting

Photo of the stars are "The Pillars of Creation," (public domain), by NASA. This self-portrait illustrates what I believe is the "end of all things" within my caregiving journey. My parents' spirits are now one with the our Creator and the universe. One day, I will join them. Life after Earth, for me, will be glorious!

“Masks (Fall Away),” "Gullah Me: Galaxies," and “Winter Wonder," are self-portraits from my “Gullah Me” collection, which consists of digitally rendered portraits of myself and family members. I created the portraits when I was working as a family caregiver for my nonagenarian parents and younger brother. The portraits tell the story of our internal and externally visible journeys, as my family members struggled to live, age in place, and die with grace. The portraits and their stories were rendered within the context of our lives as members of the Gullah community of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The Gullah people are descendants of enslaved Africans, who supplied forced labor for the plantations of the South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coastal areas of the United States.

The project was executed using digital tools for the creation of fine art. I had a dual purpose for the creation of “Gullah Me:” stress management (“Art is a medicine and medicine is an art”), and documentation of my family’s journey, to serve as future instructions for younger family members. “Masks (Fall Away),” "Gullah Me: Galaxies," and “Winter Wonder," are digital photomontages and digital paintings. These artworks are also meditations on how the deaths of elders cause individuals to move up the ladder of family ancestry. I created them to show the multiple roles caregivers play (“Masks”), the cold isolation of death (“Winter Wonder”), and the certainty that one day we will all become one with the stars within which the elements that created us, were born (“Galaxies”).

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