• Sharon Gubbay Helfer

Keep Faith

Updated: Jan 30

We brought eleven boxes of belongings with us to San Antonio, stuffed in the back of our Volvo station wagon. Among my boxes is one I labelled, "A Lifetime of Correspondence". My ambition is to sort through and read all of this, in an effort to discover what kind of creature I am by reading what I wrote to others and what others wrote to me. The likelihood of my getting through the entire box is close to zero. However, I have begun by going through a series of letters between my mother and me, with the intention of fulfilling my promise to Concordia University in Montreal, to create an art piece relating to this year's theme "Listening on Behalf of Feminist Futures". Here is the result.

The heart of this piece is my desire to honor the beauty and kindness, the light and the love I received from my mother, but was unable to appreciate at the time. Although I basked in that love as a small child, my path through life turned out to be cluttered with hidden obstacles, from small fears and jealousies to personal and collective traumas.

The title, “Keep Faith” comes from labels in the prize-books awarded to my mother as a girl; the books now spread open, their leaves delicate as the days of a life turning. The layer of letters between my mother and me flows like a river of connection through the years, a desire to remain in touch, to touch and be touched. Messier than these letters are scribbles marked with mysterious messages, “Holocaust …”, “Changes based on Love ...”: these are images of my handwriting as I lay between sleep and waking, writing down my dreams over a period of years.

With grateful acknowledgment of the support received from Concordia University's Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling in creating this project.

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