Janice Kmetz Art+Design
The fantasy land the American culture, of Mickey Mouse, does not deal with the subject of mourning and widowhood, only good, clean family fun. But, in the real world, sorrow, loss, separation, loneliness, and death are a part of living. We are culturally paralyzed by and inability to mourn.
Over the past nine years, in addition to the usual client driven graphic design, I have explored ways of expressing grief and mourning for the loss of my life’s partner in a vehicle accident. As an artist creating in the present, my work is shaped by the legacy of trauma in my personal history. Although I cannot fully know the trauma of victims of recent historic events, such as 911 and Hurricane Katrina; I know privately the devasting effect of traumatic loss; spouse, home, security, identity. I am struck by the realization of my own mortality and the limitations of my remaining years. I must rebuild my present.
Early work looked at garments needed to cover myself. Because my trauma is personal, those around me prefer to reject the existence of my wounds.
Weedy-wearing mourning weeds
Waede-a garment or clothing, archaic Anglo Saxon
Weed-black morning clothes especially those worn by a widow
Weed-black morning band, as of crepe worn on a man’s hat or sleeve
Widow, widowed-of or pertaining deprived or bereaved of one’s mate
Grass widow-discarded mistress, unmarried woman who has had a child,
I explored and continue to explore the means to bear witness to grief, to love and to the objects of love that remain; to memory and how to represent the unrepresentable. Current work seeks to commemorate my artist partner. I am exploring traditional purposes for art, commemoration and memorial; expressions such as shrines, casting, shadows. Although the content is historically specific, the work is theoretically broad.
Quoting Adorno, “After Auschwitz to write poetry is barbaric”, yet I have found the poem “No Looser, No weeper” by Maya Angelou that is a partial expression of my motivations. The conflict of the “space between impossibility and possibility, deferral and realization, repression and acknowledgement” is the most challenging to an artist in pursuing such a body of work as “Widow’s Journey”.
During the 2007 Viz Lab Summer Grant period, a series of works based on Maya Angelou’s poem were produced, as well as a separate direction of work creating shrines. Technologically I updated my knowledge of the recent Adobe CS3 upgrade. I printed a large format work from the series that was juried and exhibiied in a national show and won a juror’s award summer fall 2007.
Lisa Saltzman. Anselm Kiefer and Art after Auschwitz. Cambridge University Press, UK. 1999
The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. Random House, New York. 1994
Janice D. Kmetz, professor, December 2007
No Loser, No Weeper Powerpoint Presentation (67mb)