I seek to process, preserve, and heal through the labor of creation.
CAITO (Caito Stewart) was born in 1985 in Ossining, New York. She has shown her work in Tokyo, Japan; St. Louis, MO; Brooklyn, Manhattan, and all over New York state.
In early 2008, she moved to Tokyo, where she spent about ten years working at a language school as a Trainer, developing and facilitating training curriculums and mentoring teachers. She spent the rest of her time painting, studying Japanese, and traveling. On her travels she explored and documented the ruins and ghost towns around rural Japan as inspiration for her art.
She has a BFA in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and an MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn and Long Island.
I create installations and sculptural memorials inspired by my past. Using a variety of media, I cast domestic items in transparent resin and plaster, or hand build them out of paper, ceramic clay, and carefully arranged piles of charcoal dust. Everything is frozen in an uncanny state of half-decay or disappearance, echoing my attempts to regain control of my own narrative amidst change and loss.
My art practice is informed by both my personal history and research on grief. The task of preserving my own family history, heirlooms, and mementos has fallen to me. While performing this duty, I have uncovered the inherent power in my role. I appreciate the potent, symbolic role that physical objects play in the grief process, helping me untangle my identity and preserve my memories. To gain a richer understanding of the functions that physical objects and commemorative actions play in my own grief and art work, I am researching ways that people memorialize their dead through funeral practices, tombstones, ash scattering, reliquaries, roadside memorials, and ghost bikes.
I have observed that people can have wildly different experiences when grieving the same loss, and differing coping mechanisms that often conflict. I have learned to respect others’ perspectives and reexamine my own behavior. After analyzing my findings through writing and discussion, I integrate them into my personal story through creative physical labor. This process transforms stories of confusion, anger, and hurt to those of understanding, empathy, and acceptance.
By sharing my own story through my art, I seek to encourage and normalize open conversations around grief and loss, and erode the unspoken taboo around public expressions of grief that hinders healing and intensifies isolation. Recently, I have expanded my art practice to include more collaborative projects that teach me to push through my own feelings of discomfort as I relinquish control and learn to trust others–a recipe for resilience. My current project “Ghost Tike: A Collective Memorial” is an ongoing art installation meant to directly engage the grief community by creating opportunities for open dialog, connection, and creative collaboration.