I investigate the concept of “tiny tragedies,” and trauma as a pattern in nature. My work contemplates 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?

 

I feel a melancholic connection towards the discarded materials I work with. Small, malleable, and quiet things like aluminum foil, candy wrappers, saran wrap, or paper towels: they are beautiful because of the way that their physical history lingers on their surface. They are separated from their origins, usually found manipulated by unknown external forces, and unable to convey their history. In learning about the Anthropocene––a speculated term that describes our 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 these materials have emerged. Yet, I experience a certain beauty and fascination when working with these things. The resonance is similar to meeting someone far away who comes from the same place that you do, or hearing a phrase uttered aloud that you’ve only thought in private. A residual kinship of sorts, that compels you to believe that the connection of all things makes sense.

 

To explore these concepts, my work often incorporates photography, video, or sound recordings to create candid and honest records. I also draw, often with ink in an intuitive, flighty, but permanent manner: a way of honoring the transitory nature of the materials I so deeply connect with while resonating with the irreversibility of their physical impressions. I tend toward line that echoes patterns that disposable materials make when they are manipulated, in pursuit of a visual language for tragedy.

 

In servicing tragedy as a universal pattern in nature, my work addresses a specific loneliness within our species, and perhaps acknowledges an overlooked 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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