My mom wraps everything from lettuce to cashmere sweaters in plastic to preserve their beauty. She saves styrofoam and yogurt containers for future use. The lid for a grocery store birthday cake becomes a lid for her holiday bundt cakes; a large plastic bag keeps the dust off of her Instant Pot; a dead orchid is waiting to be composted, and its pot put to new use.
I started documenting the way my mom repurposes trash because I wanted to see her effort as admirable, a difficult and exhausting task when I often had to unwrap my own sweaters from individual plastic bags whenever I wanted to wear them as a child. As I combined her belongings into still lives, I found they told a story about who we both are and I realized I was making pictures that preserve the way my mom’s mind works. This is when I realized I was making Vanitas, a style of Dutch still life painting that rose to popularity in the mid-sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. By depicting items such as rotting fruit, dying flowers, and skulls alongside once refined luxuries like metal cups and books, Vanitas reflect on the transience of life and the futlity of worldly pursuits.
My vanitas meditate on the distinct way my mom approaches the facts of life and death. Doing so, I also invite my viewers to consider waste as immoral and the aesthetics of repurposing.