Forgotten

Identified.

Jane Doe found on November 10th 1979 was identified was identified as Tammy Jo Alexander in January 2015.

Tammy Jo died from 2 gunshot wounds, one to the head and one to the back, when she was 16 years old. A missing persons report was filed for Tammy in August 2014. She was identified using DNA taken from her half-sister, Pamela Dyson, in 2014. Although Tammy died in New York, she was originally from Florida where she lived with her mother.

We can only hope that more Jane Does are identified, that closure may be brought to their cases and if not, than at least attention should be brought to the issues that affected their lives.

There are many reports and articles online where you can find out more concerning the life and death of Tammy Jo Alexander:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Tammy_Alexander#Identification 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tammy-jo-alexander-1979-n-y-murder-victim-idd-as-long-missing-fla-teen/

http://www.people.com/article/police-id-teenage-girl-missing-35-years-tammy-jo-alexander

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2015/01/30/tammy-jo-alexander-pamela-dyson-cali-missing-girl-murder/22598871/

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Day 188 – January 30th, 1994

Unlike Jane Doe 1991, Jane Doe 1994 did not die under suspicious circumstances. Therefore, her case file is sparse yet leaves much to ponder. She was estimated to be between 60 and 75 years old, though judging by her photograph I would lean towards the latter.

Her face is striking and the contortion of her mouth is so that it appears as if she’s smiling, or even laughing. Just as striking is her black and gold patterned jumper. This was an interesting detail for me because hardly any of the morgue photos show the deceased’s clothing. Despite her senior age her skin is tight on her face and her cheeks are round yet prominent.

Jane Doe died in Philadelphia. Found inside an abandoned building, she was known to neighbours by sight only. They even conjectured that she may have been an alcoholic, or mentally ill, or both as they often saw her walking, bottle in hand, talking to herself.

She wore layers of clothing, presumably to escape the cold. She was found wearing 3 jumpers, a jacket, a hat, a scarf, a nightdress, trousers, stockings, two pairs of socks and steel toe cap boots. The boots surprised me, her photo is so ladylike, the friend or neighbour of my grandmother perhaps. How cold must she have been to wear all those clothes?

Questions swirl in an unsteady stream around my mind and I’m caught between trying to piece together the story of these women’s lives and recoiling from imagining for them a lie.

I suppose that’s where art comes in. I know that Jane Doe 1994 could be any of us and I know that people should recognise that but I don’t want to dishonour their lives by writing for them a story that never was. Truth is the central tenet of Blink. There are sketch artists out there who can make these women look like they may have in life, there are writers and directors who could re-imagine these women’s lives in far more convincing ways than I can. The best way I feel I can honour them is by giving them the time and the attention of a portrait. The images, many un-lifelike  are the only true life evidence we possess to represent them. I can only hope that these portraits do not isolate them further but it is my only response for what I see before me.

 

Illustration conceived while painting Jane Doe January 30th, 1994

Day 42 – Connections Part 2

The infrequency of my posts over the last few weeks has been ridiculous, but all in all there was little to report and I’d rather write nothing than to become monotonous and tiresome. There is less than three weeks left on the Fundit campaign and we still have the majority to raise yet if every reader gave 5 euro right now we could finish it today. Don’t wait because soon it will be over and those who have already contributed would have done so for nothing http://fundit.ie/project/blink .

As promised, today (8 days late I know) I am discussing the Blink. inspired painting I mentioned last time. It’s not what you’re used to from me, I know, I shelved precision and detail for texture and freedom. It took less then a day and honestly it was simply a way for me to break through the artist’s block I had been experiencing. There was no process, no forethought, no sketches. It was simply paint to canvas to deal with the relationships of some of these women. Mothers, daughters and brides. Gleaned from case files, many had been pregnant or given birth, one still wore a wedding ring and many had clearly been victims to the sex trade. So I will let the painting speak for itself and I would love to hear any thoughts you may have as there’s nothing worse than having unsupported thoughts and no dialogue when it comes to this kind of subject matter.

DSCF8268

DSCF8242

 

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Day 34 – Connections

I have to recognise the recent infrequency in posting but the details are not too interesting and more importantly quite boring.There is little less than a month left on Fundit http://fundit.ie/project/blink and still 85% to raise so don’t wait, it takes less than 2 minutes. I’m currently working on a Blink. inspired painting that I hope to share in the next 24 hours but today  I feel the need to approach one of the central themes of the project – Connections.

I often wonder how many people the average person speaks to in their entire life. There’s no way of knowing and yet it must be somewhere in the many thousands. Your mother, your partner, the woman behind the deli, the bouncer on the door, your children, the people interviewing you for a job, your doctors in the final days. It’s endless. And how many people do these people talk to?

Isn’t it possible that every last one of us is in some distant way connected to any and all of the Jane Does across the world? Less possible, more probable. How many names do we learn in a lifetime? This number is significantly less. And further, How many names do we remember on our deathbed?

Every one of these women was somebody’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, waitress, maid, patient, boss, partner. Some were even wives and mothers. Somewhere along the way these seemingly significant connections were severed or at least ignored.

So how do we decide which connections  are worth strengthening? Every single relationship starts as a thread in a web, a word, an introduction, but when do we cast these threads in silver, gold, iron and steel? We choose to do this. We choose who enriches our life moments. Blood is liquid and genes are microscopic but those people we decide to cherish beyond all else upon a chance encounter in one moment – this is the real miracle of life. No religion, no destiny, no fate just the miracle of coincidence.

These women once had these connections and maybe some were made of heavier stuff than thread but they still somehow disintegrated. Nothing is unbreakable and death is the greatest hammer. We may never be able to forge the truly permanent connection but it is our choice of who we decide to spend the strengthening moments with that makes all the difference.

I’d like to dedicate this post to my dearest friend whose infinite ability to be my complete opposite has furnished me with some of my happiest memories and who I hope to spend countless life moments with to strengthen our relationship even more.

Day 19 – Fundit

It’s official. Blink. is now live on Fundit, the crowdfunding website. Here is the link: http://fundit.ie/project/blink

For any of you unfamiliar with the site, creating an account takes less then two minutes and then you can browse through many worthwhile, interesting projects. To achieve our goal, I will need many materials but I have put a reasonable goal on the website so as to strengthen our chances of reaching it.

I really believe in this project and I hope you all do too. I cannot thank you enough for your continued support and interest but now is the time when we must strive even harder to make Blink. a reality. This is an artistic project with a difference. Not only will you be supporting art, this is secondary, but you will truly be giving something back. You will be providing a small group of women with a basic right that no one should be denied – to be remembered.

The rewards for funding are extremely personal and will forever give you a reminder of what you’ve helped to achieve. This should be a collective effort for anyone out there who believes and feels the visceral draw to this that I do. If you believe that these women deserve to be loved, not to be lost and to have a legacy then fund it! And together, we can achieve something far greater than ourselves.

However much you give, you will be a part of Blink., an integral and irreplaceable link in the chain that holds us together as we stand for these women and as we advocate for them when no one else will. But without you, it’s impossible.

So like, share, comment, follow, fund and let’s see what we can create.

http://fundit.ie/project/blink

Day 10 – Bottom

Toying with the idea of whether or not to disclose this was tricky. But I think it is important and will continue to be important that I continue to display both to you and myself that the struggles I predicted were not away in the air somewhere but painfully real and disturbingly physical.

Last night, as I flicked once more through the case files I was reminded of one of the ages of a face I had found so compelling. She was estimated at between 13 and 19 years old. She died in 1979. Immediately, I scrawled the word ‘ANGER’ next to the summary I had written on her file. Later, I returned and wrote the poem you can see below. However, instead of immediately typing it up as I had planned, I switched off the light and lay in the black.

Sleep would not visit, thoughts squirmed and swirled throughout my mind as the one-eyed kitten chased my shaking feet, breath escaped me in laboured, frantic pants and my very core curled into an inconceivable knot as the tumbleweed of deathly thoughts soared in mass and weight inside my unbearably tight skull. Who would this kitten outlive? Will I wake up if I fall asleep? What is nothing? The kitten has to leave or she will be forever a reminder of those who died before her. I’m going to die. Will I die first?

This continued for maybe an hour. My hands shook so much that I couldn’t even correctly type “How to stop a panic attack” into Google. Eventually, my body which had been functioning on perhaps an average of six hours sleep for the past month gave out and allowed me to slip into the warm embrace of non-thought.

It has not discouraged me in the slightest, my mortal weaknesses are nothing, are ash, in comparison to what these women and  girls went through. If anything, I am more determined, yet equally wary. Most of all I have never been more convinced that your support will be the most important part of this entire project.

Yes, I will need your donations to go ahead but true support, true collective vision will only come by the simplicity of clicking ‘Share.’ Comment, Like and Follow if you believe in Blink. and everything it stands for because the truth? The truth is not only is it not possible to do this alone but I really don’t want to. Share, share, share through social media and in person because any of you reading this cannot tell me that the thought of being truly lost, as these people are, does not terrify you as much as I was last night. But it simply won’t be worth it if this does not reach people, reach right into their centre, as it has mine and hopefully, as it has yours too.

Day 8 – Progress

Upon completion of 25 detailed sketches I opened my laptop to write, instead I fell asleep with a one-eyed kitten licking my face at 3am. I began yesterday with 5 and remembering the vow I made on day 7 managed to generate enough strength to work continuously through the day and night.

The deterioration of energy through the pages from morning to early hours is obvious, even to the visually challenged feline. My question now is how next to proceed. I don’t have the funds to order canvas yet but somehow I still don’t feel ready for that step. However, my application to FundIt is now submitted so hopefully any of you out there who have faith in the exposition will stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we endeavour together to memorialise these women.

So, over the next fortnight  I aim to study these faces, these files until my mind will allow no more and my eyes fail. To maintain passion, to maintain will and empathy as I wait to begin the real challenge is my goal. Hopefully, with all your help we can make this goal a reality and I will truly need all the support you can offer. We, a tiny group of individuals connected through cyber space, can furnish a tiny group of nameless, forgotten women with recognition, appreciation, love and most importantly a legacy that no one else is willing to provide.

But to do this will mean to encourage others, far and wide, to donate whatever little they can, no amount is too big or too small and each single euro is a step closer to remembering the people that everyone else has abandoned. I believe we can do this but it’s success solely depends on the efforts of the collective not the individual.

Day 3 – Why is it called Blink.?

To be named,
To be loved,
To be truly lost.
A barrel on a freeway
Eagles overhead
A nothing on no sidewalk.

Why to lose a life,
To lacerate a limb,
To char a thigh,
To expunge an eye,
In a Blink.

Strands, shackles, seemingly
Safe.
So easily frayed
Whisper, Shiver
Shards on the floor
Swept and discarded
Cells, strings seeping below the surface.

Surface strained by seconds,
minutes,
years,
until.

A living urn.
Flakes,
Follicles,
Pieces,
Scattered throughout time
Is this our legacy?
To live in dust.

Once shattered
Never Restored
To exist only in forgotten sprinkles
Between the grout
To glimmer in the sunrise
Never to be seen.

Humanity’s shards
Windswept and Grey
Locked in the genes
that will not come.

To lose the battle, yes,
But to lose the war-beaten soldiers of legacy,
This is effacement.
This is annihilation.
This is genocide.

No God for the Non-Existent
Who exists less than the nameless?
Was I ever here?
Or am I a chaotic formulation of ash?
An accident in a chaotic world.

I lay with the fox
the hare
the cat
and the mouse
Whose life water paints
your path home.

I lay with the amiable rat,
with your fridge,
you could have taken the cheese,
I have socks.

You’ve seen me,
I take my medicine
You walk her to school
I was she
I’m not alive now
Before I’ve died.

We checked in together.
I checked out alone.
Have fun in Orlando
While I sleep in the cold.

We swapped slots
I got the best seat home
I saw the sky
If it hadn’t been for the smoke.

But these are the lost,
The locked and Sterilised,
Without you, who’s to say I was ever there,
Or Anywhere.

Now, Blink.

©S.E Honan 2014