Cosmic Dust

One afternoon a few years ago, back when my daughter was still taking naps, I was lying down with her trying to get her to sleep, and I noticed the sunlight catching some stray hairs and dust in the corner of her windowsill.  Aside from thinking (as always) that I need to clean house better, I was struck by the beauty of these most mundane bits of debris.  There was something really glorious about it, and I loved lying there thinking about the magnitude of this micro-landscape as seen by, say, a dust mite.  

 

On some level these are a kind of self-portrait.  In photographing my gray hairs on the black background I am confronting and acknowledging and … accepting (maybe) my aging self.   More and more my brush is full of gray and white.  My DNA, and my family’s DNA are in these bits of debris, our cats’ DNA, our dust mites, traces of our lives. 

 

On my way upstairs to work on these photos I am constantly sidetracked by the dusty staircase (should I take time to clean it up, or stay on mission and get up there to work and write?).  Like many mothers, it is a struggle to balance the pull between domestic work and creative work.  This work is way of making beautiful the very thing that drives me crazy, and feels so overwhelming at times.  There is satisfaction in examining the most banal and dreary thing in the house up close, giving it the spotlight, and seeing something rather magnificent and other-worldly in it.  

 

Amazingly, it turns out dust and hair are transporting.  Ethereal.  Reminiscent of outer space, Hubble Telescope photographs, with dancerly lines, almost like a drawing, revealing ghostly traces of human life.