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Art of the Mind

About the work

‘Lint Lady’ uses temporary medium to portray parents’ memory loss

By Shannon Simcox

The love Slater Barron’s parents had for each other was tangible, and Barron uses that love to portray their likeness in an unusual medium as an extension of her concern for them.

Williamina Fullerton, born and raised in Scotland, was a dancer. It was her Broadway performance that brought her and her eventual husband, Louis Slatnick, together. People called him “stage door Johnny,” because he would wait for Fullerton at the door after each performance. The two fell in love quickly and stayed in love for decades.

Years later, Alzheimer’s disease had taken many of the couples day-to-day capabilities, but not their dedication to one another. Barron remembers one day in particular, when she was pushing her dad around in his wheelchair. Fullerton quickly put a stop to it.

“He was hers,” she remembered.

Barron, also known as the Lint Lady, has created multiple works based on her parents and their struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Lint is just one medium that Barron works in, but it is certainly the most unusual.

Its use started with frustration. Barron would paint in the garage, but the constant buzzing of the dryer was distracting. She decided to take what was working against her to see what she could do with it.

“When I do portraits with it, the edges are fuzzy,” Barron said, “like memory, which fades over time.”

She created many installations featuring her parents including “Six O’Clock News,” “Mother’s Memories: The Last Thanksgiving,” and multiple portraits of her mom. Some of these no longer exist, but Barron claims they were never meant to last.

Unless her lintwork is framed and preserved, it disappears, she said. The fact that it was transitional and temporary was something that appealed to her.

“A lot of life doesn’t last,” she said. “Things are temporary in our world.”

Barron says the large installations of her parents are the most important work that she has done.

“It helps other people to understand and know that they are not alone in their grief,” she said.

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