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Jill Poyourow  

 

the ancestral cabbages were painted in 1993 and 1994. At the time I was living in Altadena, California. My husband (a former farmer) tended a very lush and fertile backyard garden, a labor of love for him. For me, I saw these heads coming out of the earth as somehow embodying the energy of the eastern European ancestors that I had never known but wondered about. I was familiar with images (dating back to the old country) of some of these blood relatives, thanks to the invention of photography preceding/coinciding with their wave of immigration. (In previous works I thought a lot about theories of ancestor worship in different cultures.) This was also the time in my life when I began trying to begin a family of my own. If I had been a wife and mother in the old country, I would have most likely had seven children, like the seven cabbages in the series. Cabbage Patch dolls were popular at the time and part of my niece’s collection of toys, and somehow the idea that my ancestors’ souls were co-mingling with my yet to be born childrens’ souls, providied me comfort and some sense of meaning while I painted these portraits of a staple food of my ancestors.