My work exists precisely between two and three dimensions: I thrive in flattening dimensional things, and giving dimension to flat things. When I challenge or alter the dimensionality of a common object or material, that thing has new meaning.

This instinct comes from the connection I feel to discarded, overlooked, and ordinary things. Aluminum foil, candy wrappers, paper towels, rocks, twists of metal: they are beautiful because they are small, quiet, easy to miss, commonplace, and often malleable. Such things blend into their environment. I am compelled to physically and visually isolate them, removing them from their overwhelming backgrounds. I capture them through photography, videography, or drawing, so that attention is dedicated solely to this previously invisible thing. These things become the subject of portraiture.

 

I feel a melancholic connection towards the discarded materials I work with. A residual kinship of sorts, that compels you to believe that the connection of all things makes sense. When I spotlight the things and materials I work with, I better understand vulnerability, humility, beauty, resilience, and the irrelevance between complexity and scale.

In learning about the Anthropocene––the current geological epoch, in which damage to this earth is irreversible––and the “Chthulucene”––a term coined by Donna Haraway to address both living and nonliving things in the Anthropocene––I came to understand that there might be a universe born from tragedy, from which the materials and things I work with have emerged.

Much of my work is an investigation of “tiny tragedies,” and trauma as a pattern in nature. I contemplate the presentation of this pattern in disposable materials specificallythe impressionable materials that we engage with on a daily basis. I consider how some alterations to form may constitute sadness, and what all volumes of "tragedy" may have in common across animate and inanimate things. I consider whether personal and collective calamity present themselves in a strictly visual or behavioral pattern, or in some other recognizable and definable incidence. In the same way that age plays out on a person, how might trauma materialize across any material, any thing?

 

In servicing tragedy as a universal pattern in nature, my work addresses a specific loneliness within our species, and perhaps acknowledges material agency. My ultimate hope is that this work recognizes the interconnectedness of worry, pain, and endurance, in our world.

 © 2020 by Grace Marie DeWitt, visual artist

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