DRAWING CENTER, NEW YORK
The drawings of Molly Larkey are based on notes she received as a young child from her father, who lived far away. Nearly three decades later, she answers the notes and elaborates the line of communication over time in her own handwriting. The papers are enlarged to five times their original size to monumentalize the details of the dialogue into solid markers of emotion between father and daughter.
This work benefits from the viewer having a small amount of personal background about me. So here it is: When I was seven, my mom, stepfather, brother, and I moved to a log cabin in rural Idaho. We were extremely isolated there, with none of the usual amenities of modern life (electricity, indoor plumbing, stores, etc.), so there was no way for my dad, who lived in Los Angeles, to contact us except via the mail, which was delivered to the nearest town, thirty miles away.
Last year, I was thinking a lot about my memories of this time, and I tried to find the letters that I remembered writing to my dad. I didn't find them, but instead found these drafts of letters that he wrote to my brother and me. I was amazed that he kept them after all this time. Now I understand that my dad was overwhelmed by my brother's and my sudden absence, and by his inability to talk to us and know how we were, and that these letters that he wrote but never sent were a way for him to cope with these feelings.
I knew that I wanted to make drawings of his letters, as a way to try to be in the place that he was when he wrote them, to better understand him, and also myself in relation to him. But as soon as I began to draw them, I realized that I also wanted to write back, to respond to the person that he was then from the person that I am now. The two sets of letters directly embody the things I think about and try to work out by making art: the nature of the space between people and how art, and love, can transcend that space; the psychological weight that the acts of writing and mark-making can carry and convey; the feeling that by tracing the marks another person has made, I can become closer to them, maybe even can BE them for a moment. For me, this process is an enactment of our uniquely human capacity for empathy, without which, meaningful communication with others would be impossible.