In her deeply personal "Shame to Pride" project, New York-based artist Stephanie Calvert uses mixed media to confront her complex relationship with her hoarding parents and her childhood home — a remote, abandoned schoolhouse in Thatcher, Colorado.
Starting at age 11, Calvert spent six years living with her family in this unconventional homestead with limited electricity and no plumbing or central heat. In addition to the lack of basic utilities, Calvert recalls the schoolhouse as a "strange and challenging place to grow up" in large part due to her parents' hoarding tendencies.
"For many years I was ashamed of where I am from," Calvert writes, "and I felt very much alone in what I was going through."
Although her parents eventually moved 40 minutes away to a nearby city, Calvert felt compelled to return to her childhood home after her mother was involved in a serious bike accident that left her with severe brain damage.
"I decided to go back to this building after a decade away, to live and work there alone, creating art pieces from materials I found in the building," Calvert explains. "Living in isolation (no Internet or cell phone) and surrounded by my memories and family history, I used the experience of transforming physical materials as a way to transform my relationship to my story."
By creating art from the things her mother had hoarded over the years, Calvert hopes to shed light on questions she can no longer ask her mother.
"With my mother's damaged mind, I am not able to communicate and connect with her as I did before," Calvert writes. "This project is [a] way for me to learn about and connect to her through the lifetime of things she has held onto, and a way to use my challenges as fuel to focus on and create beauty and love."
Calvert wants to see this project come full circle and is currently accepting donations with the hope of putting together a solo show of her work in a gallery in New York City. Learn more about her story in the video below: