objects of mourning
2008 – present
In our culture, death and mourning are feared and considered taboo. My research sheds light on this dismissive attitude by directly focusing on this topic, which sadly is often misunderstood or not embraced in a sacred and meaningful manner. This research also continues the traditions of the 19th century mourning jewelry and ephemera. I am inspired by the intense outward mourning practices of the Victorians in relationship to the inability to negotiate loss and mourning within contemporary Western culture. The mood of the era and the moral values of the Victorian period allowed for the expression of sorrow in an outward appearance through clothing and jewelry. I find it distressing that we are unable to publically grieve for our dead. An expression of self-identity, family connectedness, a general concern for others, and the constant reminder of the inevitable is lost. Where is the space for the grief in our lives? I find the Victorian sentimentality towards death a testament to the public expression of deeply personal moments.
Through this body of work, I also seek to understand how everyday objects assist us in transitioning through the difficult process of grief/mourning. I am primarily interested in how mourning and commemoration are contained within objects and our constructed systems. During the process of mourning objects, such as clothing and photographs, can link us to these loved ones that have passed. Many of my recent pieces incorporate clothing from my deceased family members, as well as silhouettes and text pierced out of precious and semi-precious metals. I also have a strong interest in outmoded objects, such as hand fans and doilies, which are sadly, no longer used or valued as they once were. In many ways the focus on these once valued objects/motifs symbolize the shift or loss of importance in thinking deeply and honestly about death and mourning in our culture. It is also my hope that the work becomes a source of meaning beyond its physical properties and becomes an outlet for hyper-remembering, displacement, emptiness, loss, as well as sentimentality and hope. In its most elemental form, I seek to give our dead a presence in the living.