Family Plot (2020)

Family Plot is a series of hanging abstract sculptures inspired by my childhood memories. I grew up in a suburb of New York City, the youngest of five siblings in an Irish-Catholic working class family. Both of my parents were children in The Great Depression. During World War II my mother was a teenager and my father served in the Navy. My parents were careful with money and liked to save things for future use, as many parents of their generation did. Our attic, basement and garage were filled with lots of random items: cases of toilet paper and soap, old books, clothing, papers, photos, furniture and more.

As an adult I have continued this pattern of saving things. Perhaps this brings me comfort. Perhaps this creates stress. This is an ongoing personal exploration. Much of what I choose to save has no monetary value- discarded socks, abandoned dog toys, scraps of wood and foam, sentimental gifts, impulse purchases from the dollar store. I have used bits of these castoff items as the underlying structures of the sculptures in this series. These sculptures have uniform exterior surfaces and unique interior histories.

My family home was neat and clean. All clutter remained hidden behind closed doors. The clutter I collected to build these sculptures  remains trapped beneath a hard shell, a tough concrete exterior. All works are suspended from chains. Am I the tough one who is chained to my clutter… and also to my family? What lurks beneath the surface of these sculptures are family secrets whose meaning remains a mystery. There are clues, and some clues are more apparent than others. Family plot is family intrigue. Family plot is a final resting place, a burial site for members of a particular family. Family plot is emotional closure. Family Plot is a comedy mystery-thriller from my adolescence, the final film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Working titles of individual sculptures (pictured from left to right): Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Not in My House; I Promise Not to Tell;  Imaginary Friend;  My Sister the Saint;  My Brother the Favorite; Unconditional Love;  Don’t Rock the Boat; Mystical Communion; Speak No Evil; Happy Family; Dear Diary; Portrait of An Artist

Author: Margie Schnibbe

I am a visual artist making videos, drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, writings, zines, music and performances for over thirty years.

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