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Beth Secor
Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Beth Secor, "How you are remembered," 2013, pencil on vellum of found embroidered linen, photograph of Shirley Secor (1948).

Continuing through January 11, 2014

Beth Secor’s show earlier this year at Inman Gallery was a series of paintings she completed while sitting with her father in his nursing home. This show, on the other hand, is about Secor’s mother, Shirley Secor. The first word Secor remembers her mother teaching her is “material.” When she was a toddler, they would spend part of the morning in her mother’s room, where she would sew most of the children’s clothing. Now her mother, 84, has Alzheimer's. Ironically, she can no longer remember what the word 'material' means.

Secor creates these wall and floor installations using her mother’s possessions – sewing patterns, fabric, thread and her sewing machine, along with family photographs, found objects like pieces of fabric, a carved lion and a vintage blanket. She even includes one of her mother’s small paintings of cracked eggs in a bowl. Some pieces include elements by other family members. “When You Made This” combines a piece of linen with appliqué by Secor, a papier mâché and fabric bunny puppet created by her daughter, Claudia Secor Watkins, and a photograph taken by her father, Harold Secor. In some works, Secor embellishes the fabrics with paintings, drawings, or embroidery, while in others, she combines the various elements as they are.

In a statement about the show, Secor writes, “My mother no longer makes things. She is beginning to have difficulty speaking and doesn’t always fully understand what is said to her. She is like the Cheshire cat – slowly, slowly vanishing before our eyes, and as she goes, I try to grab bits and pieces of her in order to preserve the mother I knew. This installation is a manifestation of that attempt.” This deeply personal tribute to her mother is both poignant and powerful.

Lawndale Art Center

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