Karin Elizabeth | Self 2016, after loss
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Self 2016, after loss

One way of allowing myself to find inspiration is to open up, take in everything, and think about it all. During week 02, I heard about and felt very moved by David Bowie’s passing (quickly followed by Alan Rickman’s), and it is this event which ultimately lead to the images I’m about to share.

I’ve always respected David Bowie. I liked his music, and “Let’s Dance” is absolutely one of my favorite songs, but I will admit that I didn’t listen to Bowie much. If he was on the radio, I’d always appreciate it and admire his beautiful voice. But I never made time to explore his music more, even though I do believe I would have liked it very much. I know, often people aren’t truly admired until they are gone, which isn’t fair. Another important example of that phenomenon is Van Gogh. I think for me one of the factors was that I thought there would be enough time to really immerse myself in Bowie’s work organically. No one expected Bowie to NOT be around for years to come, which is why his death was so shocking. But music is forever.

The respect I feel for him has always been there due to who he was as a person, and how he was utterly true to himself right until the end. In a world where people are often forced to conform, he did the opposite with a smile and a bolt of lightning on his face. I also loved how he was fascinated by unusual themes and subjects and incorporated them into his work, like many visual artists have done and still do. He was more than music: he was an inspiring, groundbreaking  person and artist. Also, Labyrinth. #NuffSaid

One of the first things I did when I heard of Bowie’s death was to play his last album, Blackstar, and watch the videos for the title track and Lazarus. The 10 minute long video for Blackstar is truly stunning and it forced me to think about death and grief. It is full of symbolism to interpret and, simultaneously, it is also very direct. I was also in awe when I saw photos of Bowie taken on his last birthday, two days before his death. That laugh, that confidence, that joy – when he must have known it wouldn’t be much longer. How admirable.

And that’s where it all came together: my week 02 image would finally represent the feeling of stacked on loss I’ve had in 2014 and early 2015 (with 4 loved ones lost, 3 of which in a span of four months), and overcame. It was an overwhelming hurricane of grief, but it has been incredibly strengthening. I made it through it all, still standing, and forever grown up.

KE_theme02The skull is inspired by David Bowie’s video, as is the idea of double exposure to signify movement.

I wanted to express direct grief-related emotions but to not make them too overwhelming, as it was important for me to express coming out on the other side of it. Blending the multiple exposures together (an out-of-comfort-zone decision, as was the incorporation of the skull watercolor I did) was a choice I made to express movement, because grief is a constant ebb and flow, and it stays with you forever even though you’ve healed. Most of the time, the grief hovers in the background and you feel fine, happy, able to go on. But sometimes, it sneaks up on you and makes you ache all over, all over again. And that’s what I wanted to express and I think I did it successfully.

Overall, it was a good week. I loved doing the noir theme during week 01, as it’s something that suits who I am, but it still expanded on a more superficial side of me. This week’s work is what I’ve been longing to do for a while. Something genuine and to me of immense value. And I’m not afraid to share it.

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