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Lauren D. 

Powdered charcoal on bathtub, 2009


When I was 13, my father suffered a fatal heart attack in his sleep. He was living with my grandmother after he and my mother divorced. While I stayed there regularly, I was living with my mother at the time. My grandmother found his body in the morning when he did not wake to his alarm.

I often thought about her experience of finding him and of continuing to live in that house. I thought about my experience as a child, going through his belongings such a short distance from where he died. I wanted to create a piece that addressed that intersection of place and memory.


It took me over 15 years to attempt a piece about these experiences, but the catharsis was immediate, even when sketching out the concept. I climbed into my bathtub carrying a jar of powdered charcoal with a perforated lid. After laying on the tub floor, I sprinkled the powdered charcoal over most of my body, marking my outline like a rain shadow, and climbed out, careful not to disturb the charcoal any more than was absolutely necessary. I photographed the remaining charcoal from a variety of angles and then turned on the shower. An enormous cloud of charcoal dust erupted as the water hit. The transitory nature of that medium was inadvertently very helpful. After immersing myself in those emotions for days,I experienced a lot of release in washing it away.

Lauren D. 



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