Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States
In 1998 my family took our first trip to Yosemite National Park and stayed at the nearby motel, the Cedar Lodge. Then in 2014 my mom revealed that during our idyllic vacation a man had tried to break into our motel room in the middle of the night; my dad scared the man away and my sister and I slept through the whole thing. My parents tried to forget about the confrontation, but in the following months four women were murdered by the handyman from the Cedar Lodge.
My mom didn't have the tools to process this encounter and the twist of fate that spared our family, and so the guilt and grief festered within her for fifteen years. Learning that four women were killed in a place I considered paradise was confounding, but that I could have been one of them wasn’t something I could shake off or even really understand. I just knew I couldn’t keep these feelings building within me, like my mom had. My tool for delving into myself has always been my art.
Through research and the gathering of images, I began to lay out the disjointed narratives that crossed paths at the Cedar Lodge. To understand and illustrate my place within, or rather alongside the tragedy, my connection and my disconnect, I made collages: fracturing, obscuring, and layering images that included the photos that my parents had taken in 1998 and my teenage landscapes. I approached the project from varying perspectives because of my own confusion, but also to illustrate that this wasn’t really my story. This is not my trauma; we survived. The trauma I saw my mom go through does not compare to that of the families who lost their sisters, daughters, mothers.
To complete this project, I returned to The Cedar Lodge. I studied it closely and made new images of it. It’s terrifying to come so close to a nightmare, but I found that as I put it on paper where I could see it, the history of the place became less of a threat. Yosemite and the Cedar Lodge became beautiful again.