Olfactory Gallery (Memories of Home) is a collection of works created by our 2022-2023 artist cohort that illustrate what home smells like to the artist. As the second installment of our Synesthesia project, Olfactory Gallery focuses on the strength of smell in storing and provoking memories - specifically those of our childhood and home.
The smell of a time long ago. Beyond the point of return, it keeps me. It visits me when I am
low. My dreams, memories, and serenity. The smell of you keeps me. It is my hope.
Desire Lovey Mae
By Petron Brown
I remember my father
By the smell of roasted peanuts
Before the Caribbean sun
Yielded salt from his wounds
He was one with the scent
Of burning wood
Turned bright yellow
I remember him
By the smell of crumpled dollar bills
On black bureaux laced with silver
Skin of charcoal
Been rubbed against barrel
The burned ones smelled of coffee trails
Summoning me from my nest:
Shhhhh shhhhh shhhhh
Open nostrils and fill body
With strength from Selassie
Marked by nose
Ripened like mangoes in summer
Fallen like bad mammi in Joe’s yard
Only in this soil may you bear good fruit.
The West Indian Patriarch
Home Is Where The Heart Sings
By Joselyn Orihuela
There is rain falling all over me, and the smell of the earth in the air.
The muddy ground at my feet.
I enter the Barn and catch the dust inside.
I make my way upstairs, and with each step I take, the fresh coat of paint Grows louder.
I can almost taste it.
A combination of all three,
Oh, how lovely!
There is nowhere else I would rather be.
I step onto my mark and take my spot next to my friends.
Strangers three months ago, family today.
Just like that,
The lights dim.
The clapping fades.
The show ends.
And the song comes to a close.
But I’ve never felt music like this before.
I’m 19 years old, and this is the first time,
The first time I felt my heart sing.
Oh, what music!
Sweet, sweet, music.
My friend, let your heart sing!
You are home.
You’ve always been home.
By Cassidy Guimares
In my childhood home, the flowers of the dead smell like sunshine -
Clean air, coppertone lotion, the seats of mom’s 2007 honda minivan
(careful, wipe your feet, no sand allowed)
And a small green pail.
Dull and cracked, but, y’know, still good.
The shamrock-patterned china-glass teacup beside them
Smells like the hug of a spring yellow sweater -
Handmade, hesitant, frail,
Its bargain detergent-washed sleeves brushing
The pictures of a daughter carefully pasted to poster board -
Her entire life on our kitchen table.
A shelf below, white ceramic wedding bells ring in fall -
The scent of summer lazily lounging as bright fitting room lights glare.
“Too loose, too tight, too expensive -“ (too impatient)
Until two new pairs of sneakers squeak down linoleum halls,
Minds and backpacks heavy with things
We learned too slowly.
But in the back, half-hidden,
There is an unwound clock that smells mulberry red,
Like cranberries and cinnamon and slammed doors
And store-bought gingerbread houses and untouched board games and heartache -
(Yes, heartache, I’m sorry, but -)
The scent of it lingers, it overpowers, it is passed down and inherited like
The memories we do not touch -
The ones trapped in flowers and teacups and wedding bells
And tainted by the yankee candle signature collection
That is also locked
Behind those cabinet doors