Tommy Tomlin

Our bodies are wired to remember, we retain information long after something has come to pass. That’s why smelling hot sawdust takes me back to my father’s construction sites and the Saturdays we would spend checking on each one, why the scar on my forehead brings me back to thinking I was going to die from a superficial cut. Who would I be had not tromped through the woods with my cousins at age five, ruining our tennis shoes in the mud and catching salamanders? The dark depths that these memories emerge from is much like the ocean. With the full picture never truly there, I find myself remembering small details that were important to me at the time. The moment I recall something, it seems like one hundred other moments burst forth into my consciousness, like an overpacked sardine tin being opened.

Using collage, I can bring elements from all over and stitch them together into a cohesive idea. It doesn’t stop at scraps of paper and glue, as digital art programs help in adding depth, light, and shadow, ultimately creating something beyond the original pieces. I believe we aren’t just the products of situation, but the pieces and parts of things we stitch together to create one’s view of the world. Using fish, sardines, grants an anonymity to each memory to allow more focus on the emotion versus the person.

Reflecting on the good and bad of my childhood allows me to reconcile with my younger self and ultimately heal and understand why I am the way I am as an adult. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll always be that little kid, facing trials and tribulations over and over again, unsure of myself and the world. As I grow and allow myself to look back, I realize I can handle the hardships of life and that younger me was stronger than I could ever imagine.