I've learned that grief and loss are different, even if they often hold hands. Loss tends to come from within us, we're reminded of it when we have a slow moment or see something nostalgic. Grief—well grief has no patience. It claims your body. Like Cat's Claw, it creeps into your walls, fills your cavities, suffocates your structure. Once it devours you, you forget who you ever were without it.
an exploration of grief, loss and healing
Cast glass, pit inclusions and steel
12" x 12" x 2"
Grief is a Potter
I learned to make home my body so I could take it with me wherever I went. The madrugada that you died though, whatever semblance of home you had helped me create vanished. Like a potter, Grief rescuplted my body. It made my walls too thin, so they began to collapse. To stop the collapsing, I did what a potter once told me to do: I pulled inward. I made myself smaller. I pulled my flimsy walls so tight my contents did not fit. Pieces jutted outward, trying to poke through, others pushed hard against the wall. My spine would constantly shiver in claustrophobia, trying to shake its way out of Grief’s straight jacket. One too many shivers in, I realized there was no escape. Instead, I shrunk my insides too. I compressed them into a dark little mass in my center—my own personal black hole. Its gravity so profound, it sucked everything else in. I lived like that for a year, with my walls constantly collapsing. With each collapse, I became absorbed further into the unfathomable darkness.
Mary's Light, 2016
Glass, cattle ribs, twine, and steel
16" x 10" x 10"
Photograph by David Gilles
I found these cattle ribs in Mississippi, in a loose pile on the ground. It was in interesting sight. Ribs are a symbol of protection, a case for our lungs and heart. Outside of the body, however, ribs are a reminder of our inability to truly ever protect against death.
While this piece was meant to examine the naturalness of death, the suicide of the friend who inspired this piece felt so unnatural. It became an interesting reflection into human connection and how it fights these necessary human processes.
To Lose in a Place
I’ve filled a lot of sketchbooks with themes of places, home, grief, loss, healing, identity, womanhood, and time, but after a while it gets hard to dissect them. To pull them apart becomes complicated, as they all melt into experience, and all are controlled by time. Home is connected, yes, obviously to place, but even more so to grief and then healing. To lose in a place, and then to heal in a place is to build home. The bits of that place get stuck in the scabs, they grow into you. The first place you laugh in and it doesn’t feel hollow, or like the smile of your lips is fighting the format of your face, well that place settles into the space behind your cheek bones. When the eclipse of darkness starts to recede, the light in that place starts to creep its way back into your skeleton. As you heal, as your structure rebuilds, you realize it’s all screwed into the earth you walk on, and so the roots you’ve grown, that have kept you standing up—weak at first, but now stronger—they’ve connected you so deeply to a place that there is nowhere else to go. Maybe you’ll feel stuck, or can’t imagine rebuilding anywhere else, but after the driftlessness of a dark year or two, to feel any connection—especially to the earth, well that feels nice. I guess that’s what we call healing, but it feels an awful lot like something I would call home.
104 Weeks, 2013
Water color on paper, nails, thread and acrylic on wood
48" x 36" x 1"
Originally, I tried to break up this exploration into two different categories with healing being its own. However, healing does not exist without the presence of loss. This piece, 104 weeks, archived the two year process of healing from the loss of a dear friendship with no closure. Through dissecting my sketch books and journals, I charted the process of ups and downs in reconciling the loss that I was experiencing, and the healing that I was encountering. Of course, this piece was in an effort to cement this healing. Like loss, healing is nonlinear. Sometimes we make grounds, sometimes we accidentally drop ourselves and shatter all over again, and all the time, we must keep going.