As I pulled the pieces out of the cardboard boxes that housed the pieces I wept. The same cardboard boxes I put them in 6 years ago. The same cardboard boxes that had moved from house to house, been stored and saved. These cardboard boxes have been patiently waiting to be opened and have it’s precious contents placed carefully into a drawer. A drawer nested in a sweet, white dresser adorned with pink roses for our little girl. Instead, the boxes were opened in a dusty studio, by a heartbroken mother, with tears in her eyes. She was covered in paint and had sawdust up to her elbows and plaster in her messy hair. The cherished contents, instead of being laid neatly in preparation for a darling little girl, was thrown into a bucket of plaster and harshly submersed beneath the milky surface.
Laid to rest in the wet, white dirt.
Still. This word holds all of the weight my work carries. Not still as in calm or still as in peaceful. Rather, still as in quiet… deafening. After a bomb, a traumatic accident, or an overwhelming loud noise the human mind struggles to process everything it is experiencing. And then, silence. The mind attempts to adjust to the new normal. While our bodies are good at adapting in subtle transitions, we struggle with such a stark transition from extreme sound to intense silence. It takes a minute for the mind to sort everything out, it is in this moment we experience deafening silence. Much like a traumatic train wreck or explosion, my life took a sudden blow, one worth formidable impact. One that rocked me and continues to make my mind and body reel, attempting to recalibrate and adjust to the new normal. I am currently standing in the remnants and debris of an unfortunate reality. My work is not a monument to my experience, or a summary of what I have been through. There is no happy ending, there is no bow to tie on top, this is not something that will have an end. Rather, the wreckage of my experience surrounds me. The flotsam and jetsam of my left just happens to look nice hanging on a gallery wall. To be human is to know grief and sorrow. To be without something so dear, can leave you bereft of your own self. The human experience however, is a complex and intricate one. The only reason tragedy is so painful and deeply felt, is because of the beauty that is life. We experience true grace and mercy. We get to witness intrinsic artistry. Some get to experience true love, and live in it daily. Some have held in their arms the most pure and innocent of all light. So when we lose something we know exactly what we are missing out on. We know what is missing, because we have felt the opposite. Knowing our life will forever be without what we can identify as gone, is heartbreaking. But it is the highs, the love, the tangible perfection, the light keeps us and mends us.
I have chosen to go with a monochromatic and neutral color palette because it has forced me to focus more on the formal elements of my work. Reducing down to the bare minimum forced me to face the structure that made up my work. The integrity of my work had to become stronger to allow my voice to be heard. Through my work I want the viewer to feel the absence I am attempting to visually describe, the feeling of loss, love, grief, and innocence. I want the viewer to see my attempt to understand, accept, and possibly mend the broken fibers that make up my physical body; even be able to relate to this sense of loss within themselves. I want to address the absence of an unidentifiable object within my work. I want to show what is missing and what is left over. I am asking questions such as “how can the absence of something cause such a heavy weight?” and “what is the point of the empty vessel if what it is meant to hold is missing?” But, defining “nothing” is tricky. I am drawn to empty space, the opposite of horror vacui, I feel peace in open spaces and I crave visual emptiness. But the feeling of emptiness? That is new. I have never felt such a hollow, barren, devoid of “something” before in my life. I am using this love of empty spaces and my attempt to understand this desolate body and how uncomfortable it is.
So while the world sees nothing, I feel it stronger than anything else in the world.
Other elements of my work are pieces that show the result of a physical reaction I feel when dealing with and accepting my trauma. I feel a guttural cringe, one that takes my breath away and I feel as if I have had the wind knocked out of me. I can physically feel the absence in my chest and the ache in my heart. I am showing my fingers wrapping into a tight fist, showing my fingers digging through the concrete. I want the viewer to feel the dirt under their nails and can feel the concrete drying on their skin, slightly pulling on their arm hair as it contracts and hardens. I hope they can feel the grip of the tragedy in which I am living. Another element within my work in the gallery are my pieces of texture and rhythm. These pieces use small elements and they are repeated and explored and they vary in size and weight. I choose to use weaker objects to create this tension because that is what I feel like. I feel that I too am a weak object under great duress.
Through my art, I hope to better understand the human experience, the one full of sorrow, hardships, sadness, and grief. The same existence that is only able to define the before mentioned due to the beauty, artistry, greatness, and intricacies that too surround us.