You want to remember.

The good times and the bad. The times of abundance and the times of loss. Moments of clarity, and new beginnings.

You have a box tucked in the back of the closet with tickets stubs from your first concert, notes from old lovers still stained with tears, some happy and some sad. You pull it out every once in a while to reminisce about old friends, or to add a new piece of ephemera. You still send hand-written notes to the ones you love and you never forget a birthday or an anniversary.

Your memories are your center, the place to which you return to remind yourself of who you are and where you came from. And you want to surround yourself with people and things that keep you in touch with this center.

My name is Ronee Parsons. I create paintings that explore the way we remember and how memories shape us.

My parents divorced before I can remember. My mom’s house was stable, but I was trucked off to my bio-dad’s house twice a month and every other holiday, and his house was a scary place. Fear sunk into my bones, and I developed severe anxiety and insomnia.

Around this time, my grandparents gave me one of those art kits for kids that folds in half and can be carried like a briefcase. I remember the creamy texture of the oil pastels-the way they spread across the page like butter or frosting, the rainbow of colored pencils, and the bright spots of watercolor pans. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. I stayed up late at night coloring pictures, writing poems, making things, and reading books. I’ve been making art and writing stories ever since.

A few years ago, I picked up a watercolor set on a whim. While watching the rainbow pigments swirling and settling in the water, I lost myself.  It wasn’t long before I really didn’t want to do anything else.

Over and over again in my work I am drawn to my family’s old photos and stories for inspiration. I’ve started to grow my collection to include found photos and photos of people that inspire me. But not just photos - I like finding anything with handwriting, ticket stubs, receipts, ledgers and matchbooks. I see how the stories I tell about myself shape me and my life, and in looking at the photos of my grandparents and great grandparents I’ve begun to recognize the stories we tell about our histories as families and as communities do the same thing.