Austin M. Stewart,
Art and Visual Culture
The Veil signifies the proverbial wool over the eyes of the public with regard to mortality. We will all die, everyone, we know, and love will die too. We don’t know when, or how, and there is nothing we can do to change the inevitable. Accepting our mortality—and that of those around us—is key to opening a dialogue about grief and loss and a “broken” world in which such issues are ignored. This thesis focuses on bereavement, unmasking the stigma against catharsis, and the overemphasis of positivity.
Grief is defined as “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death” (Oxford Collegiate Dictionary, 1992). It is a word that is both familiar and unfamiliar, a state of being that is uncomfortable to discuss and dreadful to endure. My research is concerned with sudden loss and the aftermath of tragedy. In my work, catharsis is a necessary component in the acknowledgment and validation of grief. Traumatic loss is a sudden, unnatural death—suicide, motor vehicle accident, house fire, and includes witnessing the death of a loved one. These types of deaths can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression for those left behind. They can leave lasting impressions, the psychological equivalent of a deep physical scar. My research is concerned with the aftermath of tragedy and the psychological effects of sudden loss. In my art, connotations of catharsis emphasize the necessity of acknowledging grief through the expression of creativity.