The Wonders of Remembering

“Our brains are a wondrous, complex, mysterious creation with the ability to store and throw away information at an incredible pace.” – Ty Nathan Clark

In the description for his series “Lessons in Remembering” artist Ty Nathan Clark writes that, “we are the collectors of time.” He creates a physical embodiment of his memories and experiences using his art. In essence, capturing time in a way that allows him to share it with his audience. 

Around the world we find the role of time keepers just like Ty, seeking to take a moment and create something enduring. From writers to quilt makers, to the mom and dad with the camera phone, we are all working to make something fleeting become permanent. 

The human mind does this as well. Do you ever have those moments when you are in the middle of going through your day and suddenly something hits you that makes you think of the past? The ability of our minds to create associations for memory recollection is amazing. 

Things that you may not even realize you are holding onto can be triggered by a certain smell, song or even sight that reminds you of some past experience. The feeling that you get on a warm sunny day when the smell of fresh cut grass takes you back to childhood, days outside playing chase and riding bikes with your friends. I have a memory of riding down a slopping drive way on my cousin’s skateboard, and as gravity goes, landing at the bottom in a scraped and bloody mess. Every time I hear the sound of a skateboard on pavement, I remember that not so fond memory. 

Even more interesting is how the memories that we retain are tied to the emotions experienced at the time. A 2015 article from Psychology Today explores how the brain uses emotion as a marker for determining which events and experiences are reserved for memory. According to the article, emotion is involved in all four of the phases of memory formation: information encoding, processing, storage and retrieval. It is no wonder that we can recall a happy memory as vividly as a bad one, and why our brains have the ability to block out those memories most traumatic to us. 

A Study in Memory Formation #4 | 25x19

A Study in Memory Formation #4 | 25x19

We all are made up of moments, both shared and solitary, that have molded and shaped who we are today. In what ways do you act as a keeper of your memories?  - Kim

See Clark’s “Lessons in Remembering” on display at Sozo Gallery until February 28.