Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Memorial

This project began with the announcement by a young artist, "I made my grandma - she died so she's in the box." She spoke matter-of-factly about the creation featuring a drawing on a slab with the addition of a slab above (a headstone?).
The others at her table became interested in the project and with some great peer teaching helped her to score and slip to make stronger sides to fully realize this idea of a box.
The angle on this final photo makes it a bit harder to see the drawn figure but she is there, now surrounded by her box.
What captivated me about this story was this young artists' ability to create a memorial to her grandmother and the support she received from peers during the process. The focus stayed very much on the logistics of creating this box. I don't recall peers asking much about the death or even the usual sympathetic remarks one might expect to hear after hearing of a loss in a family. And yet, it did not feel as though the group was insensitive - it was just a very matter-of-fact sort of interaction. This is what happened - my grandmother died, they put her in a box and so I am making a sculpture of my grandmother in the box.
Speaking to the artist's mother, it was in fact her great-grandmother who died and she said that her daughter's questions focused a great deal on trying to understand what happened when someone dies. The great-grandmother was cremated so it was a very small box that was buried and this at the time seemed difficult for the child to reconcile - many questions related to why the box was so small. Perhaps, by creating a small box and drawing grandma inside, this young artist was able to work out artistically this part that seemed to not make sense at the same time creating a personal memorial of her great-grandmother.
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