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Woman Transforms Parents' Hoarding Collection into Art

The Short of It

A young woman converts relics from her parents' hoarding past, into art as a way of healing from her troubled childhood.

The Lowdown

"I was really ashamed, and I spent years hiding from my past," admits Stephanie Calvert in a Vimeo video.

To say the New York City based artist's upbringing was nontraditional is an understatement. At the age of 11, she moved into an abandoned Thatcher, Colo., school house with her parents. It lacked plumbing, heat and reliable electricity, and it also housed a growing collection of her mom's and dad's hoarded possessions, which they began amassing after deaths of family members.

Eventually, Calvert moved away to New York, and her parents left the school house abandoned once again, but it was still crowded with their collections. But a recent accident that left her mom brain damaged brought the artist back to Colorado, where she decided to face her past. Calvert moved into the crumbling home she knew as a child and began creating art out of the piles of stuff her parents left behind.

By creating installations and collages from what she calls relics from her childhood—trash and treasure—Calvert says her shame was transformed into pride. In fact, "Shame to Pride" is the name of her project, which her father supports, but her mother is unable to understand due to her injury.

Shame to Pride project from Stephanie Calvert on Vimeo.

The Upshot

Calvert says that as a little girl, she didn't know her parents were hoarders; the artist wasn't even aware of the word's meaning or why her parents were unable to stop collecting things. Instead, she confesses she felt like a freak. Amazingly, it seems Calvert has found a creative way to heal from her painful childhood. Hopefully, her art will inspire other people who are living with a parent who has a hoarding disorder.

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