April Martin

It was never my choice, April Martin, 16x20 photographs, audio, 5x5 skull ice sculpture

Artist Statement:

Mortality and our eventual death is something we all end up approaching in the end, whether or not we want to face that reality.  Our lives are ephemeral and that can be terrifying, especially when death is something that is suddenly very close when cancer is present. Having both parents be given stage four cancer is incredibly tough and a challenge to deal with, never truly knowing how much time I have with them. So, as I started this project, realizing that art is a mechanism for me deal with this, I realized that what this project demanded was not something only aesthetically pleasing. It demanded something very raw and very personal of me, and when I heard my parents talk about facing death, I realized it also was never my choice.

Death is inevitable and always present because life is liminal. That we can’t stop a process from happening, no matter how much we try but, we don’t have to be discouraged by it and we don’t have to be afraid. My parents were both given a few months to live, and in the end, by some miracle, they are still here. So we just take it day by day, enjoying life in the little things and trying to live in the present before the miracle ends. I see how my parents bravely face whatever it is ahead of them, and I understand now what they’ve been trying to tell me all along.

My mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The photograph has her talking about her view of death, which is represented by the skull. My father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The photograph has him laughing at the skull in his hand, while enjoying a cigarette outside on the patio. Both their views and thoughts about cancer and death can be heard in the audio overhead during a candid, untouched and raw interview. The music audio coming from the sculpture is my mother’s radiation playlist we would listen to on the way home from the hospital.

The ice skull took two months and several hours to create, as well as the time spent preserving it, laying it in plastic and resin to prolong its exposure to the natural world. With the audio in the background and my parents’ passive and calming thoughts to death and what’s ahead, the skull also ultimately becomes a representation of my own desire to preserve something that naturally wants to do the opposite. So, as part of the projects process, I decided to leave it out in the open to natural means and let it melt on its own; as slowly as it wants and at its own pace as my parent’s voices echo overhead.

April Martin