Haunt and Hold

Michelle Laxalt


In my experiences with caregiving, I was confronted with the vulnerable physicality of infant and elderly bodies. In Haunt and Hold, I draw on two memories in which I observed the physical weakening of my grandparents’ bodies. Intensely visceral and existentially overwhelming, these moments compelled me to reevaluate my material existence as well as a number of family traditions that have complicated my spiritual assumptions.

Using the “Catholic Imagination,” the Medieval memory palace, the uncanny, and the abject as theoretical and conceptual frameworks, I make sense of these experiences and narratives. I create sculptural works that serve as reminders of the body, reflect on the sensations I experienced while caregiving, and re-contextualize personal family traditions involving the body. While the work is deeply rooted in my subjective experience, I intend to create uncanny encounters for viewers by presenting them with materials and scenarios that are visceral, unusual, and evocatively familiar.