Salt of the Earth
Salt of the Earth, 2015
photography, salt, mirror, found objects
Sarah Grace Holcomb & Patrick Sandefur
We receive our cues from our mothers. In the home, on fairly banal days we don’t notice, the homemaking happening around us. On days of note; funerals, birthdays, holidays, ritual comes second nature. It carries through the years, not always through the matriarchal line, but in your present life, whispers of generations fold those bed sheets with you, eat those things on those days. Dance to those songs on those nights.
In a family with strong oral history, the past is ever more present. Once those who would tell the story, who lived the story, are no longer here. The past is tied into the home, whether that’s one house, or in 10 states as we have lived collectively. With migration, the home is exceedingly important because you are creating permanence in flux. ‘Gramma’s cane goes here, by the door, as always.’
“Salt of the earth” refers to a person who is inherently good. It has its origins in the bible, and salt’s significance to human kind is so vast that the original meaning of the phrase is argued.
Salt is more intrinsic to domesticity than anything else. You could trace salt generations into your family past. For what other constant, even through depression, wars, migration and famine, would you be able to always find, and be so integral to everyday home life?
Matriarchs take with them more than they leave when they die. Of course they leave recipes, and adages. Belongings that become inheritance. Lives are left to become legacies.
They leave sheep in the wood.
But all that is left does not match what is taken. They take your history. What you understand to be your people. You will never find this through their possessions, or letters even, notes scrawled on the backs of photos. All that we carry around to remember them by, pales in comparison to what will never be retrieved. It’s only to be built anew from the salt of the earth. In a shade of what you remember.