How Family Inspires Art


What is family and art and how do they intersect in my artistic practice? These are the questions I will avoid in this article. I'm joking. ūü§≠ In this article, I'm going to answer those exact questions.



What Is Family?

Family are humans that share the closest DNA with you. I am fascinated with studying one's genetics, genealogy, and oral histories. Blood relatives are significant because they affirm my humanity. Getting to know my relatives is an open invitation to connect to people of the human race, learn about characters, and to share in the presence of the source of all living things.

I want to emphasize that family is not just knowing the name of my great great aunt Cora Jackson or my great aunt Gertrude Dyous, nor knowing their relation to self, but knowing their character, stories, and decisions made under circumstances.



In the midst of great stress, my cousin drove four hours to Bainbridge, GA to assist and spend time with my lover and I. She helped us archive, orginzined and photograph thousands of pictures. I am grateful for her being. The time spent with her in her mother's brick house was beautiful and priceless. This is how family can bring you into a state of extraordinary quality. She supported the arising of a creative impulse in a major way.

What is Art?

Art is creation through creativity. To define the terms in my definitation, art is the act of bring something into existence through the use of imagination.

The Intersection of Family + Art

A few of my artworks involves and intersects with family. I resort to utilizing my family as a subject because I enjoy communicating, discussing, and describing my family. I often tap into creativity that emerges from discussing family through art making.

I would go as far to say that an intersection for family + art is collaboration. I am often in unofficial collaborations with my family through practicing vernacular photography. I am in collaboration with often unknown photographers, the collector of the photographs, and the people whose likeness might be imprinted in the photographs. My collaborations in the simplest form is making meaning through acts of creation. The act of documenting the photographs adds a meaning of importance. The original reproduction holds meanings like lesure, wealth, and love. Reproduction is critical component of consideration and collaboration in my work. There are any forms I can create a photograph out of. There are numerous contexts I position a photograph in. 



In conclusion, I bring images into existence through the help of my family. I explore multiple perspectives and imaginations of my families being. Some of these creations include researching and grave hunting with my sister, collecting letters from my grandmother, field recording my cousin talking about his life a half of a century ago, ect. My framework of family and art intersect through different forms like vernacular photography. Getting to know my family foster an environment that allows for creation through imagination which has a direct impact on the boundary of the art and self.

Reflection Question:

What does your family inspire you to create and how do they help your imagination grow?



Hellen Ascoli

The relationship with my family has been difficult. It is embedded with abuse and trauma, but also a lot of love ‚Ķ and even though distance was necessary for a long time, reconnecting with them has been an essential part of my growth as a person and my creative process. To understand how grief has run throughout, to see how care gets expressed in small moments ‚Äď bringing flowers, making a meal, whatsapp messages that at face value appear short and dry. All these document not just my creative process but also a creative process as a family. Your writing made me think how creativity is of course not limited to art making, but creating spaces where we can be together. ‚Ķ. I am enjoying learning your work too. slowly. thank you.

Prince Lang

Post a comment by answering the reflection question. It‚Äôs my way to help foster an environment where your imagination can grow! ‚ėļÔłŹ

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