With her collection Lost Wax, Jericho Parms borrows her title from a casting method used by sculptors. As such, these eighteen essays, centered on art and memory, offer an investigation into form and content and the language of innocence, experience, and loss. Four sections (each borrowing names from the sculptures of Degas, Bernini, and Rodin) frame a series of meditations that consider the boundaries of the discernible world and the extremes of the body and the self. Here Parms draws heavily on memories of a Bronx upbringing in the 1980s and 1990s, explorations in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and the American West; the struggle to comprehend race, love, family, madness, and nostalgia; and the unending influence of art, poetry, and music.
Written largely within the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lost Wax is an inquiry into the ways we curate memory and human experience despite the limits of observation and language. In these essays, Parms exhibits and examines her greatest obsessions: how to describe the surface of marble or bronze, how to embrace the necessary complexities of identity, stillness and movement, life and death—how to be young and alive.
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The essays in Jericho Parms’s Lost Wax read exquisitely as poems, each piece a lyrical moment resplendent with imagery. In a work punctuated by art and music, and tinged with drama and heartache, Parms retraces her steps through the family rooms of her youth, across the galleries of adulthood, to create a portrait of a cultured life borne out of curiosity and relentless wonder.
—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
In Lost Wax, Jericho Parms offers her readers an intricate map of her coming of age. Loosely chronological and spanning Parms’s early life (in the 1980s and 1990s) to her adulthood in the present day, her essays are surfaced, textured, raised, in relief. Home and away have deeply marked her.
—Audrey Petty, editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing
Lost Wax by Jericho Parms is an ekphrastic and lyrical meditation on love, loss, language, family, and identity. Often taking art as a starting point, Parms explores her childhood in the Bronx, her visits to her grandfather’s home in Arizona, her parents’ divorce, her mixed-race ethnicity, a loving but ultimately ‘failed’ relationship or two, and her often actualized desire or compulsion to escape, to run, and seek out novel experiences. As much a travel memoir as a collection of essays, the book ultimately enacts an essayistic and valiant attempt at self-understanding. In Parms’s hands language and form come first, like the revelations of ‘lost wax,’ and confession or personal investment often comes later, with meaning accruing in layers and circles, the ‘heart’ of each piece revealing itself slowly, through subtle and satisfying digressions. Lost Wax is a book about fitting in everywhere and nowhere, about living in between parents, between identities, between relationships, landscapes, past, present, and future. It becomes, in the end, a stunning celebration of the liminal spaces in life.
—Steven Church, author of One with the Tiger: On Savagery and Intimacy