"35 Clay Circle" - Jay Sullivan
My Father’s Ashes

Photography/Mixed Media

When my father died, his ashes were sent to me. I put the brown box on a shelf in our laundry room and forgot about it. When we moved, the brown box found its way to a closet in my basement. Then, through a series of events, the ashes ended up in my mother’s garage 30 years after my parents divorced.

I began My Father’s Ashes while photographing another series called G(love).  After G(love) was completed, I slowly began contemplating how to complete My Father’s Ashes. For a long time, I did nothing, in a holding pattern of not wanting to turn back but not wanting to move forward either. For much of my life, I had been connected to my father through the pain of hurtful experiences. My father’s ashes were a symbol of that pain. I wanted to move beyond it, but if our connection was not through pain, was there any connection at all?

Time was needed. There was a long period of inaction, necessary time in which the positive experiences of creating G(love) became more a part of my psychological reality. The pain was slowly replaced by connection, then admiration, appreciation, and love. It was time to let go of one relationship in order to fully grasp another.

My Father's Ashes - Jay Sullivan
My Father's Ashes - Jay Sullivan
My Father's Ashes - Jay Sullivan

Early in the process of creating G(love), I created an image of a baseball over a summer meadow. It became an orphan image, looking for a place to belong among other images I created over the course of 5 years. With G(love) complete and several loose ends needing to be tied, I realized that the image of the baseball floating over the field was the bridge between the past and present, between pain and love. One sunny summer day, I went to the meadow where the image was created, waited for a steady breeze and then released the ashes onto the wind which carried them high into the sky.

"Beloved" - Jay Sullivan