The Pamela's Baby Rocking Chair Installation (2102-2017) by Stu Jenks.
This installation will be part of the upcoming Dia de los Muertos show at Tohono Chul Park, in Tucson, Arizona from August 24th, until early November. I am thrilled to bring this installation to the world for the very first time at Tohono Chul. Many thanks to James Schaub and Karen Hayes for making it all possible.
My sister Pamela Jenks has been dead six years now. Died of breast cancer at age 62. I miss her. Not all the time, but from time to time. I certainly don’t miss the selfish, mean, loud drunk she was most of her adult life, but I surely miss the considerate, kind, loving woman she became the last six months before she died. Thanks, Pamela, for being the sister I always wanted to have, those last few weeks.
From soon after Pamela’s death in 2011 to the present, I’ve been taking my sister’s toddler rocking chair hither and yon. Due to her alcoholism and her general fear of the big bad world, Pamela Jenks was a virtual shut-in the last couple of decades of her life, living in my family’s falling-down old home place in Raleigh, North Carolina. I first took Pamela’s Baby Rocking Chair out and about, when I drove it and me to my sister’s grave in rural Virginia in 2012. Since then, with only a few breaks, I’ve photographed the PBRC all over the place, from the streets of New York City, to the hills of San Francisco, from the wilds of Sonora, Mexico to the snows of Utah, from the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, California. I’ve taken Pamela’s chair to where she was too afraid to go.
Then last winter, something unexpected happened. My sister’s chair wasn’t so much about her anymore. It became my chair. It represented me as well as my sister, about my journey through life, not so much about my memories of her and of my deceased mother and father. The chair is me, and judging from all the patrons over the years who have bought prints of the PBRC, the chair has become you as well.
This summer has been financially and emotionally tough for me. Hell, it’s tough all over, but creating this installation has put a number of things in their proper perspective.
1) Pamela’s dead. I am not.
2) I’m still making stuff, recording music, typing words. Pamela’s ain’t doing no cross stitch no mo.
And 3) I have friends and family that I love very much and they care for me too. They can talk to me and hold me and hug me and I can do the same back. Pamela, however, is in the grave, unable to humanly love and touch me, and she can’t be touched or hugged back or listened to.
But maybe that’s her over there, skipping through the trees, a teenager having her whole life ahead of her, not seeing the future alcoholism, the desperate loneliness, the checkered job history, and the resentful bitterness that made a cold bed for her to lie in every night.
Maybe her light-filled spirit is right here, right now, right over there, free and happy.
What did you just say Pamela?
“I’m fucking proud of you, bro,” says the angel ghost off my left shoulder. “I fucking love ya.”
“Thanks, Pamela,” I whisper to myself. “I love you too.”
To read the Pamela’s Baby Rocking Chair book, you can buy the e-book on Amazon and on other sites, or listen to or buy the audio book on iTunes, or Spotify, or if you want to buy the real live paperback book book, contact me at www.stujenks.org. The second Pamela’s Baby Rocking Chair book, A Chair In The Wilderness, will be released sometime in 2018.
Have a blessed day, y’all.