Solar Return (June 6th 2022) is a collage made on my father's would-be 71st birthday using hand-drawn birthday cards that my mother made for my father before I was born in 1979. The original card consisted of a portrait of my father with rainbow rings around the sun symbolizing each year of his life dating back to 1951. I photocopied and collaged her artwork with some of my childhood coloring book art made for my father when I was around 10 years old entitled "To Dad". The image of a clown walking a tight rope symbolizes parenthood under pressure, trying to balance impossible demands while masking one's truest and darkest emotions.
My mother died by suicide when I was 5 month's old. The last birthday card my mother drew for my father was stored in her funeral book, kept in the bottom drawer of his dresser. I discovered it while clearing out his house after his death.
The image on the front of the card is a self-portrait of her, pregnant and nude, laying in the landscape of the Canadian Shield, surrounded by mossy ground and tall conifers. A pink sun in the distance illuminates the scene. She appears to be part of the earth. Inside the card she writes “A new branch grows on the tree of life” and below “1982 will be a year to remember.” 1982 was both the year I was born and the year she died. I was shocked to find this card, haunted by her voice even if I can’t remember what it sounded like, in that moment I could feel and hear her presence.