Plexiglass engraving, India Ink, 11” x 14”
© 2018 Zoey Fleck, All Rights Reserved
Throughout my evolution as an artist, I have always had a fascination with portraiture and life drawing. Branching multiple mediums, I render portraits of my friends, my family, myself, outcasts, strangers, young people, and old people; I study people in motion, people being still, people screaming, people staring into space. Portraiture is a vehicle that allows me to explore human emotion, relationships, and isolation. I am interested in capturing a feeling through my work and strive to create pieces that hold emotional resonance for myself and viewers. My senior show, Vacated Mourning, is a five-piece collection of drypoint plexiglass etchings that aims to embody the grieving process through the exploration of body and environment.
I enjoy printmaking for its tediousness and imperfections, no two prints will ever be exactly the same and that attracts me to the art form. Creating the work was a meditative process, involving many steps, as well as sweat, tears and a little blood (once!) Plexiglass etchings and printmaking as a whole, require numerous steps to reach a completed product. From carefully tearing sheets from a thick roll of paper to tediously sanding down the edges of the plexi, to spending hours hand wiping ink from the plates, I had time to reflect on the meaning of my work and experience art making in all it's solitary, grueling, and rewarding forms. The work itself is full of small details, imagery, and is rich in line work and contrast. After rendering the prints, I chose to apply an ink wash to accentuate the relationship between light and dark.
Grief is universal; although I chose to explore grief as a reaction to my own life experiences, I believe this theme is relatable to anyone. Grief is more than losing a person to death, and in many ways, we are constantly grieving as we progress through life; whether it be a new job, a change of home, or something as trivial as finishing a good book or movie. Through creating a series of prints studying grief, I have adopted an attitude about loss that is hopeful, accepting, and mindful. Loss and grief cannot be prevented, but when embraced and taken into study, this human experience can be viewed as something beautiful and meaningful. Professional skier, Mike Shaw, who lost his ability to compete after a catastrophic sports injury that left him partially paralyzed, speaks of his grief as this, "Grief was validation. I had something that mattered in my life so much, it hurt to lose." Through this perspective, grief gives value to things we have and have lost in life.
Through opening a dialogue about an often-stigmatized topic, I hope to lead viewers to adopt a mindful approach to handling loss. I created this body of work to provide an external representation of an experience that is often internalized and dealt with alone. Grief is not a symbol of weakness, but a confirmation of our own humanity and a validation of the things in life that we value the most. In a society that shuns vulnerability, I hope this work will leave audiences with a new perspective on grief and encourage open conversations about loss and mental health.
grief, portraiture, women, interior