My Mother Hardly Known
בקושי הכרתי את אמי
Mixed media (ironing board, photographs, clothing), 1990
The second ironing board is ‘My Mother Hardly Known.’ It is framed with pages from picture albums and the old fashioned corners that would grab the pictures. The ‘totem’ in the center, made of yardsticks is a ‘mother totem,’ and the pictures on it are my mother hardly known. The sparse images speak to how little we really know the persons close to us. I am the infant toddler in her arms. How surprised I was to find this picture and discover my mother to have once been young, physical, attractive and very feminine – exactly as I remember myself to have been at that very stage, holding my own infants in my arms. (Later, we found her black satin dancing pumps deep in the hall closet, and a wooden tennis racket. "Mother! You never told us!")
Her head is represented in the left ironing board by an embroidery hoop with an old-fashioned needle pack in the center, and in the right, by an empty picture frame with a black lace veil over it. The ironing board is her body in both, conveying with immediacy her craft, her occupation, and her familiar posture. Abstraction and suggestion convey something of her life, perhaps more than a detailed realistic narrative. Even now I am drawn to old wooden ironing boards.