Art is said to have therapeutic properties, and this is the concept I have put into practice throughout the creation of my thesis. My line of inquiry is an exploration into the intersection of trauma, the body, sense of place, and interpersonal relationships. It is an autobiographical journey through events that have occurred throughout the past year and the ways they are still affecting me, as seen through an installation of images printed on fabric. These images include self-portraiture, land/cityscapes, mixed-media photography, scans of objects, and journal content such as poetry and sketches. My starting questions included: how is trauma stored in the body, and how do these effects manifest in my everyday life? How can I best give myself space to speak about what I’ve experienced, and then permission to move on? How do I begin to heal myself? My goal was to dive deep into my conscious and subconscious mind -- to develop the self-awareness to unravel myself, in order to put myself back together again.
My influences include the fields of trauma theory and neuroscience; I took particular inspiration from psychologist Bessel Van der Kolk, and scholars Christa Schönfelder and Lynn Worsham, throughout the creation of my thesis. Their theory has helped shape the physical form this work has taken, including the decision to physically link the fabric prints with thread. These threads symbolize (and actualize) the connections I’ve made as I moved throughout the process, in order to help me better understand and integrate my memories and experiences. This also serves as a way to create narrative within the work without imposing too much order on it -- it is a way to represent the chaotic and fragmented nature of trauma, and the attempt to make sense of and categorize it, without giving too heavily into either side. The installation is meant to honor the truth and incomprehensibility of what has occured.
These concepts of complexity and fragility that are intertwined with trauma have been crucial to my working process. I mixed imagery and text from a variety of situations, aesthetics, and thought processes, because my objective was to show the far-reaching nature of trauma and as many of its effects as possible. My images are printed on thin fabric and strung from fishing wire and sewing thread to give an honest depiction of how delicate, messy, and fraught with complication the healing process is. Currently, my work is installed throughout my bedroom: while this was not my original plan before the restrictions of COVID-19, I have found that it’s actually been ideal. Besides being conceptually linked to the themes in my work, on a physical level, being immersed in the room (over 25 hours through the process of installation) has allowed me to begin reconnecting with my own space. My hope when starting this work was to come away with a better understanding of myself, and potentially a path towards healing, and I feel that I’m on my way.