ode to mom

FLYMAN (2022)

by: Ethan White

about the artist:

I am a 21-year-old non-binary artist and filmmaker from Edmonton, Alberta. My mom was a dietician, and my dad worked as a high school guidance counselor in the neighboring small town of Stony Plain. Before moving to Vancouver for UBC, I had lived my entire life in the same house, with the same bedroom on the city's outskirts. My life was drenched in middle-class suburbia, and my alienation to the rest of the world. I struggled heavily with my identity as I grew up, wrestling with my estrangement from the rest of my family, and with my gender and sexuality existing in opposition to my French-Catholic schooling. Having reached a breaking point at the age of sixteen, I ended up making my first film, rather than killing myself. I have since discovered a depth of love for my life and the people who populate it, that I had never ever thought would be possible.

about the artwork:

short film

My mom, Holly Ames, died suddenly in front of me three days before I moved to Vancouver. Me, My sister and my dad drove fourteen hours in a state of medical shock to get me here, and then they left. And I was alone with the most traumatic memories I have ever acquired in my life. My first year was nothing but a constant disassociation. I just remember being so, so, so confused. I made FLYMAN in collaboration with my roommate, creative partner and best friend Skylar Somnus, over the course of the following year as a kind of self-portrait to illustrate my experience. The film was originally supposed to have dialogue, but after my mom passed I realize how futile it was to try to communicate the pain I was in with words alone, so I settled on this medium. The film was completed, and released in August of 2022, the same month in which Holly had passed away a year prior. It would not have been possible without Skylar's understanding and dedication to me as the bearer of my grief on-screen as the central protagonist of the film, as well as off-screen as the true love of my life at the time.

Every person involved with the production was attuned to my grief and kept me company as I was dragged through the pits of it, and I could never be grateful enough. One specific shoot day nearly actually killed me, and I can tell the story of that later on, but that experience led me to so many conclusions about myself, my mother, the afterlife, my love, and made it possible for me to be a peace with my mom's passing. I haven't achieved that peace completely yet, but believe me, it truly is possible.