I've always felt a pull toward the dark and macabre. Perhaps that came from feeling like the world wasn't made for me: mixed-race and living with mental illness, it seemed fitting to retreat to a place that felt as unusual and taboo as I did. Darkness and difference pair so well together.
Inside my dark fantasies sadness felt not like a disease, but a birthright. Somewhere in that dark world was a family for me, other people who could understand how it felt to be different and lonely, wholly unlovable.
Relics for the lonely.
A few years ago, I began collecting memento mori and mourning jewelry. I was fascinated by the power of these artifacts. At their core was a deep loneliness, the lure of the dark unknown, a longing for something lost. But they also spoke to me of mutual belonging. Imagine loving someone so deeply that you would carry their death concealed in jewelry, always beside you.
Jewelry became a talisman to carry close to me, protecting me from my own grief. And, when jewelry so often is given as a symbol of affection, gifting it to myself felt like a gesture of self-recognition and self-love. These were relics of my own loss, transformed.
For those who grew up lost.
Unlovable is an offering to those who grew up lost. It is rooted in trauma: personal, historical, and generational. Some people have to fight to love themselves. I wanted to reach those people still searching for belonging, those trying to reclaim their own pain.
These are symbols of mourning:
for the families we’ve yet to discover;
for our many former selves, now deceased;
for the loss of the people we could have been.
These are symbols of love:
for our child-selves, who survived;
for our current selves, who are learning how to live;
for the voice in our heads that still whispers we’re unworthy of love.
I have found my family in the unlovable creatures of the world, in everyone who carries a dark world inside themselves.
These are tokens of my love for you. Carry them close to your heart.