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Marie Montgomery (BFA ’12)

Published August 1, 2012
”Synaptic Colony” by Marie Montgomery

“Synaptic Colony” – Video, Wood, Charcoal, Ants, 5’x3’

“While attending school in Tallahassee my Uncle Kirk and his wife graciously opened their home to me.  As a retired archaeologist, my uncle reads to retain his mental acuity by memorizing facts from world history. Watching a documentary on Pearl Harbor, he stopped, turned to me and said, “Oh, I learned something.” Someone with so much knowledge, and I watched him learn something new.  He has been an archaeologist, mail carrier, private detective, even a master fencer who has fenced with an Olympic medalist. Are these tall tales or are these the absolute history?  These facts, experiences, and the flare of the storyteller come together to fashion the narrative of the individual.

The worn, nameless books throughout the installation represent aging memories. These deteriorated books are a collection of stories and facts that have begun to fade.  I was raised in the same house that my uncle had grown up in. I was surrounded by the same books and the same stories. These books shaped who he became just as his stories have shaped how I view him.

The ant farm is a cross section of an ant’s life that you observe from the outside much like stories are a glimpse into a person’s life, a span of time that demonstrates that person’s character.  In their short life span they build a colony and make a home through excavating just as our connected memories make a home for us in our mind.

Events in our lives shape our mind and become memories that are deeply rooted, and as we share these experiences through stories with other people they become a part of who they are.  As we grow our memories develop as a tree would and mature into memories that branch out to form our identity.

This installation is a literal and symbolic dissection of a person’s memories.  As memories accumulate they shape our identities. Through telling stories, a person may divulge their perception of their own experiences, even if these experiences are distorted by time and biases.  The stories may be distorted further by the listener’s cognition.  Memory is consistently growing, changing, and deteriorating.”

–  Marie Montgomery