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Portraits of My Mother

“Portraits of My Mother” by Mara G. Haseltine

On May 14th science-based artist Mara G. Haseltine will have a virtual online exhibit ,“Portraits of My Mother” – the most intimate and personal work the artist has created. “Portraits of My Mother” is an homage to the artist’s recently deceased mother, Patricia Gercik Haseltine. Patricia grew up amidst the Jewish community in post-World War II Tokyo, which has since been erased by history. Although assimilated into American ways of life, she was in many ways culturally Japanese. Her background is reflected throughout the exhibition.

The show comprises two bodies of work. The first is a set of images inspired by the way in which babies first experience their Mothers as set of sensorial impressions rather than experiencing them as persons differentiated from themselves. Haseltine began by selecting some objects belonging to her Mother, such as a mismatched fur trim glove, a Japanese traditional quilt or a beloved piece of jewelry. Then, using a self-fashioned microscope attached to a camera. she created a series of images based on these objects . Objects seen through a microscope only have one plane of focus at a time, so much of each picture is blurry. This creates a dream-like quality in the images, similar the undeveloped vision of an infant. The result of this work is a set of thirteen images that have been enlarged to the point of abstraction. To give the prints added luminosity, Haseltine printed this series on brushed metal.

The second part of the show is a sculptural installation that begins on the floor and ends up on the wall. Patricia was an avid collector of Japanese antiques. During her childhood and on subsequent frequent trips to Japan, she collected Japanese dolls traditionally used on “Girls Day” in Japan. Using these dolls, Haseltine created a formation like a river across her studio floor that leads up to her Mother’s high school graduation picture balanced on top of a Japanese table formed out of a Root. This installation completes the exhibition as a tribute to the artist’s Mother.

“Portraits of My Mother” was created from iPhone captures the day before the world went into lockdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic hence some of the rough quality. The artist would like to dedicate this piece to all those who have lost a loved one. A special thanks to Alexander G. Haseltine for his contribution to the soundtrack.