We have all felt the anxieties and stresses of living through a pandemic. Isolation, uncertainty, claustrophobia, panic. Through the fear and darkness of a catastrophe, we look for symbols of hope and glimmers of light that remind us things will be ok. The dust will settle. There will be beauty again. This pandemic has highlighted these feelings, but the reality is we face this fear in our lives on smaller and larger scales throughout our time on this planet. This work is an existential exploration, and asks you to take a moment to meditate on hope, and to find some bit of beauty that can inspire you to celebrate even in times like these.
What started out as a concept of a book unfolding, transformed into an installation in the woods. Remnants from this book concept remain for those who know to look for them. In the many-layered smaller boards, texts from some of my favorite female authors, Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith, Shirley Jackson, Anais Nin and Margaret Atwood, are sculpted on. Little hidden messages of insight and inspiration that have meant very much to me throughout these transformative years. Viewers can see a glimpse, but not make out the whole story— very symbolic of an inward philosophy hiding behind outward expressions. The mulberry and thai kozo papers have an acrylic polymer on them, which allowed them to take on a twisted and sculptural form.
My hope is that the overall experience for those who were able to visit the installation provided a moment for them to step outside of the chaos of the pandemic, and enjoy the beauty of nature and the curiosity of the art in it. I also asked them to take a moment to reflect and leave a note or a drawing of something beautiful to serve as a memento and exchange of the experience.
I concluded the project by creating a short film of the installation from my point of view, paired with music by Max Richter (Departure, Lullaby), which synced with the footage and helped reinforce a theme of dystopian fantasy.
My whole world was turned around when the pandemic hit. Living in a country that does not prioritize public health over individual liberty, means that we have been living, since March, in a type of dystopia. Nothing has returned to normal yet, many businesses closed, school will not be taking place on campus for the children this fall. Life as we know it changed, and living in California, the state with the most cases, there still isn’t an end in sight. So adjusting to this “new normal” has brought up a lot of feelings. I have been now caring for children at home almost exclusively since March— something I haven’t done since my children were very young. I also am caring for a stepson these days, so my role at home has been even more complicated.
However, when I stayed home with my children when they were very young, I wasn’t also working and attending school. And I had the ability to leave the home and take them on adventures. Additionally, my youngest daughter (age 8), broke her leg severely the first week of summer “break”, so getting out into the great outdoors as refuge, or spending some time at the beach was soon off the table.
I say all this because I really think it affected my art and practice these past several months. So much responsibility on my plate and trying to balance any artistic endeavors creates an extreme amount of internal tensions for me.
I often think of the artists who managed to balance motherhood and those who did not. Ruth Asawa is a great inspiration to me as she worked primarily from home surrounded by children. They saw her art-making as a natural part of home life, and she went on to become an arts educator as well. I think of her when I am feeling overwhelmed.
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