Onwaecnan, or Awaken - A fine art series on mortality and the beauty of living
Public mourning once played a large role in everyday life, exemplified by Queen Victoria and the culture she created and embraced following the death of Prince Albert. Now however, the discussion of grief is considered taboo to the extent that most avoid even acknowledging that human mortality exists and act as if death is catching, leaving those going through it to feel alone in their pain. Over the course of the last two years however, the arrival of a global pandemic has changed that and has forced us all to live with a collective grief. We are currently being asked to accept death in a way that we never have before. Although I have been preoccupied with human mortality for as long as I can remember, it was my own personal experience with the unexpected loss of my father due to complications with chemotherapy that initially inspired my work to turn toward fine art and the still life genre with a focus on grief. It is through my series 'Onwaecnan', a fine art still life body of work, that I indulge this fixation, creating vanitas tableaux reflecting on death; a once normalized approach to the acknowledgment of mortality and the beauty of living. Through carefully constructed still life imagery, I search for connection to the dead and explore grief while elevating the still life. Pulling from the vanitas style of the seventeenth century Dutch masters, my work combines contemporary mediums with Renaissance styling to speak to contemporary viewers of our impermanence, bonds, and encourage inner contemplation. Images in this body of work aim to provide a safe space for mourning and connection because when you find someone who has experienced grief as you have, everything changes.