“Cycles of Grief”
This was my senior art display as I graduated high school in May 2011. The concept related to the mourning process and the human condition as it faces a loss. There are 66 pieces in total that create this display, a compilation of a semester’s worth of work. The ceramic woman up front is close to life size representing the protagonist of the show. Behind her is the open space, the hard lines of concrete floor and sterile white walls are softened by pounds of sugar and flour. This creates a comforting aroma of baking or sugar cookies that works to recall memories of home to the audience while also augmenting the area in a more dream-like manner to show that the distance between the ceramic figure in the foreground and the back wall illustrates her internal emotional states. These are contained in woven vessels that fall organically from a woven ceiling, a decision to make the composition of the space flow more naturally. The cocoons are arranged in an infinity shape that represents the shift between them that can go on for a while before the mourner is ready to move on. Each of the ten cocoons holds a different emotional reaction of the woman caused by the sudden loss of a loved one. The relationship being grieved is illustrated by the back wall, which is covered in pieces that showcase my closest personal relationships throughout my time away at school. The upper portion is made of every greeting card I received during my first year away from home, painted with expired fabric dye into a field of poppies with embroidered details on the most upfront flowers to tie the body of work together as a fiber installation. Under the field, which represents both the threat of war to my loved ones in the military and the threat of opiates that had taken hold of my community, are a series of embroideries dedicated to the cellular text messages from friends at home. This was a concept of bringing the old technique of sentimental stitching together with the often insincere method of expressing emotions through casual text messaging. The display conveys a lot of the relationships I value and missed at the time, adding a good emotional backbone to the whole installation. As the audience explored the back walk, holding the text embroideries and engaging in an exploration through my personal life, they were able to empathize and recall parallel relationships in their own lives. Then the thought of losing these, or the memory of losing them, would well up as they walked through the cocooned space to find the figure laying in a state of grief in the front of it all, frozen and lost in her own emotional turmoil. I had people crying and the emotional response was beautiful. This was a work of meditative love and mourning for the peers I lost at my public school between 2007 and 2009.