Tragedy is something that most people do not know how to cope with when it happens. My work explores the relationship
between the viewer and a tragedy. I want to make a visual into a coping mechanism when tragedy strikes and when people need an outlet. With an interest in exploring mediums and ways of applying them, I have created a varying series of work that explores portraiture, recreation of photos, sculpture, fluid movement, and mixed media.
All of the pieces within my series relate to tragedy. A tragedy is an event that causes great suffering. Death is one of the most tragic events to happen to humans. Whether it is the death of a loved one, or the unnecessary death of people because of a hateful act. Death in other cultures is usually given a direct way to cope with, for example, Korea it is common to cremate your loved one and make colorful beads of the ashes. In Japan, death is seen as a liberation which is similar to the Hindu culture, making the mourning process more a celebration than a loss. In the United States, we might have religious views that tell us what to do with the dead, but this is a cultural disconnect that we have not been able to build as a nation. Through my art I have given myself a coping mechanism to be able to understand the tragedy and spend my own time mourning, and give the viewer a reminder of how significant death is.
After the Pittsburgh Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, I didn’t know what to think or what to do to help. This tragedy is seen as the worst anti-Semitic act in US history and people didn’t know about it. I tried to talk to classmates and friends and the only people who knew were also Jewish. This in itself was a tragedy, we are so used to mass shootings in this country that this terrible act is being forgotten and so are these people. I wanted to learn more about the murdered individuals and I found that their pictures were blurred and inappropriate to be used as a remembrance. For example, one man had sunglasses on that covered his whole face. We weren’t remembering these people; the news outlets were going through the motions and not putting the time into respecting and memorializing the dead. This is why I painted eleven individual portraits of the eleven victims, each of which I spent at least three hours with so that I could spend my time respecting them, reading about their lives, and giving them portraits that can be seen and remembered. I wanted to understand their personalities and who they were so that I could bring their portraits to life.
Other works in the series are to memorialize my mother who has passed tragically and to remember her life and spend time with her through the paintings. I also created an ephemeral body as a sculpture to remember how fragile the human life is and how easy is can be taken away along with a holocaust memorial piece that shows how easily another person can create this tragedy, even on a mass scale.
Through this series I hope to help others going through tragedy and to show that people and events are not easily forgotten. I also hope to educate people on tragedies, like the Synagogue Shooting, that they might not have been informed of otherwise. I want to continue to work on this series and build more on past tragedies and ones yet to come.