New York artist Zefrey Throwell opened a new exhibit last week with a unique medium for the art: ashes and crystal meth. The art is a memorial for his father, Douglas Throwell, who overdosed on crystal meth seven years ago. “Panic in the Chalk Cave” is the title of the exhibit and slang for getting addicted to crystal meth and chronicles Douglas’ life from age seven until his death.
“This is the art of an addict’s life,” said Zefrey Throwell of his work. A past addict himself, he has found some solace in its creation. His father became addicted to drugs shortly after running away from home at 16. He met Zefrey’s mother while in San Francisco and started a family, but wasn’t able to stay clean. Eventually, he found himself alone and homeless.
“He was homeless for a long time, he just had a way of burning people out,” said Throwell. “You have someone you love and they keep making mistakes and the only time they call is to use you. It gets old pretty quick.”
Perhaps part of what makes Throwell’s exhibit so poignant is that it points to the two potential paths an addict can choose. A past addict himself, he chose one path while his father chose the other.
“One is that you embrace the addiction and you fall down the rabbit hole as far as you can until it kills you.
“The other path is clean, and you survive.”
Throwell’s exhibit opened on Thursday, February 28th and runs until March 23rd. It’s showing at the Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery in New York, NY. For the exhibit, Throwell sifted a mixture of ashes and crystal meth onto silk screens to recreate photographs of his father. The exhibit will also showcase a film made by Throwell and Dirk Skreber, “Time Stau,” which is about falling into love and addiction.