I am honored to now have a blog post, written by yours truly, featured on the Grief Dialogues website. The post is a short essay describing how my mother helped me–even in death–to claim and grow into my identity as an artist.
Grief Dialogues was founded by Elizabeth Coplan, “an award-winning writer dedicated to bringing death and grief out in the open.” A woman whose values are very much aligned with my own!
I found the Grief Dialogues website a few months ago when I was searching for ways to connect with others interested in the intersection of art and grief. When I saw that their motto was “Out of grief comes art,” I knew I had to connect with them!
I was amazed by the live performance event, where two short plays about grief and death were performed live via Zoom, one of which was written by Coplan herself. The stories were thought-provoking and relatable and I was amazed by the performers’ ability to deliver moving performances, even when they weren’t in the same physical space as their co-stars! After the performances finished, the audience was invited to share comments and questions in discussion with the event hosts, performers, and a certified Grief counselor. That’s right. We, the audience members, were allowed to linger and share any thoughts or feelings that had been evoked while we were witnessing the performances. I found this new way of holding a performance to be incredibly refreshing!
*For those unaware, Reimagine is a non-profit organization devoted to “sparking community-driven festivals and conversations that explore death and celebrate life.” I have attended numerous events through Reimagine’s online festivals during the pandemic, and am honored to be included in their current festival Creating Space, through which I am offering my Leaf Crafting Workshops for the Ghost Tike Memorial Project.
I recently participated in the first part of the three-part show Inheritance at Super Dutchess Gallery, where my sculpture Specter of a Key was displayed this August. The receptions were well-attended, socially distanced, and I really enjoyed getting to see some of my former classmates. I haven’t seen any of them in person since Pratt went online around the week of March 17th.
Here are some photos of the outdoor reception events:
One positive about this pandemic situation is how easy it is to see far-away exhibitions that I would never have been able to see during normal, pre-pandemic times. A great example is Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home, presented by The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina.
The online exhibition highlights works from a variety of projects throughout the careers of ten different artists. Accompanying essays draw incisive connections between the personal history of each artist and the stories featured in their work.
Shimon Attie’s public works are exceptionally poignant, featuring a range of experiences of displaced persons, from Holocaust victims to immigrants and refugees in New York City. In his project The Writing on the Wall from 1991-92, he projects old photographs of everyday Jewish people onto building exteriors. He carefully frames them within doorways and windows as if they were still there, reminding us of a more peaceful time before their communities were violently obliterated. This creates a ghostly effect, reminding us of their absence while also honoring their lives.
Also included are works from Attie’s more personal project, Untitled Memory from 1998. One particularly compelling image isUntitled Memory (projection of Armand V.), an image of a man projected over his former kitchen nook, perfectly arranged so it looks as if he is really sitting there, leaning against the wall with his foot up on the bench and his elbow on the table. When captured in a snapshot, the photo-realistic projection of the man’s casual, natural posture re-creates an vivid, intimate memory. The colorlessness of his form grimly reminds us of his absence.
Another highlight is the work of Hung Liu, who was born in China in 1948, one year before the People’s Republic of China was established. The essay reveals that Liu was born a refugee, “displaced since birth.” She takes vintage photos of women in China and gives them a contemporary update with printmaking techniques and expressive, drippy strokes of paint, revealing differences in the lifestyles of women before, during, and after the Cultural Revolution. She also explores her own displacement and loss of identity as a Chinese-born person in the U.S.
One issue I have with the online format of the exhibition is the lack of information (title, date, medium, size) of each work, which makes it difficult to reference or search for more information about the artists’ individual works. However, the quality of the work and the essays more than make up for this oversight.
A particularly potent but nameless work by Liu depicts a small child crouched on the ground, crying and holding an empty white bowl. Laying in the grass next to her is a woman, presumably her mother, possibly dead. Chaotic drips and hazy gray washes of paint encroach, covering the mother’s body possibly in reference to her imminent return to the earth. Overlaying everything are decoratively-painted images of birds and fish. The overall effect is one of overwhelm and despair, which certainly tugs at my empathy receptors.
Relevant especially to American current events are the sculptures of Renée Stout, which explore the history of her African heritage and the pain of the African diaspora through her use of found objects and other materials. Also notable are the works of Tanja Softić, who uses art to sort through her experience living through the violent break up of the former country of Yugoslavia. She juxtaposes photographic images of current-day Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina with images of mushrooms and fungi, a pioneer species symbolizing rebirth and growth.
Showing a range of perspectives from across the European, Asian, African, and American continents, the exhibition does a good job of highlighting the similar stories of physical plight and psychological damage that all displaced people seem to suffer, regardless of where they come from or where they end up.
I am pleased to announce my participation in the following exhibitions:
The Feminine Agenda
Womenswork.Art gallery has partnered with WE RISE: POUGHKEEPSIE and other arts organizations to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The exhibition was juried by Artist/Educator Ana Maria Farina.
This group exhibition will be available on-site and online for sale.
Exhibition Dates: September 4-27, 2020
Opening Reception: Friday, September 4, 6-9pm (Space is Limited– please contact the gallery to make an appointment)
Virtual Artists’ Talks: September 12, September 19 3-5pm
Regular Gallery Hours: Fridays/Saturdays 2-6pm, and by Appointment during the week (Closed on September 5th for an off-site event)
2. LOSS, a virtual exhibition
This online exhibition by Woman Made Gallery in Chicago was juried by artist and curator Felicia Grant Preston. The show includes works by 120 female-identified and non-binary artists from the US, Austria, Canada, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Nigeria, and Turkey, all exploring loss, a topic very close to my heart.
My opening reception for “I Come From the Water” at Ossining Public Library was on Saturday, August 4th from 12-2pm. A bunch of my family, friends, and supporters from Ossining came to the reception. I am so grateful for their support!
If you have a chance to get out there to see the show, there are five new paintings on view that have never been shown before.
Last night I facilitated an Art Healing Grief workshop in my hometown of Ossining. We had 7 participants join and it was a great experience!
I went over how to use the materials and showed them some different ways of making marks that they could use to express themselves. While some were initially afraid of “making a mistake,” everyone was able to push through that fear and dive into the act of making. It was less about making something perfect and more about letting the act of painting heal you and allow you to express yourself without words in a safe space.
At the end everyone shared what the experience felt like and what their paintings expressed. Overall, I think they enjoyed themselves, and I hope they left feeling at peace and confident enough to pick up a brush again and paint their feelings at home if they so desire! I only wish I had remembered to take more pictures before it was over.
If you are interested in doing a workshop or event that involves making art with the goal of relaxation and healing you can inquire at Caitlin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m showing some of my recent paintings in the Hallway Gallery at the Ossining Public Library, in my hometown of Ossining, New York. My work will be on view from August 1st to 28th. See the flyer below for more details about the opening reception!
On August 1st, I will be facilitating an Art Healing Grief workshop at St. Augustine Parish Hall in my hometown of Ossining, New York. The workshop will create a safe space for people to express their grief through painting.
“Art gives our heart and mind a place to create, permission to express outside of our grieving bodies.”
Art Healing Grief Workshop
Wednesday, August 1st 7:00 – 9:00pm
St. Augustine Parish Hall, 2nd Floor
Workshop is limited to 12 artists!
Artist & Facilitator: Caitlin Stewart, BFA
Caitlin is a graduate student at Pratt Institute and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. Caitlin taught at the ECC Language Institute in Japan for 10 years.
Art encourages movement of our imagination. Art influences how we look at, unblock, and shed light on our grief. Art invites our imagination to surface grief in images, movement, and color. Art releases the tension of grief.
This workshop will provide a safe place to express your grief on canvas while painting in acrylics.
A fee of $20 for art supplies must be paid in advance.