‘Into a Memory’: Artist Perspective
The Bigger Picture: ‘First We Must Fall’, a Series in the Making
‘Into A Memory’ is the second piece for my series-in-the-making, ‘First We Must Fall’. The series is inspired by the multitude of difficult emotions the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon us. The theme within the theme mirrors COVID’s impact: loss. Very few people in the country (about 1%) avoided loss in some way. Roughly 60% of Americans, still among the lucky, loss only their freedom to interact with others outside of the home. Another 40% lost financial security and income source with many small businesses being forced to close.
Yet hitting the highest unemployment rate in recorded US history was not the worst of it for more than 120,000 people (and counting) and their families. That of course refers to the people who lost their own life or that of one or more loved ones. This number is climbing daily as people come out of isolation.
Check out the series overview to learn more about the series as a whole which will be updated as the pieces evolve.
Continuing The Tone
There is stark difference between the two works. ‘Into Pieces’ is a painting with rich colors and visible texture in areas, whereas ‘Into A Memory’ is stripped down to a graphite drawing, naturally devoid of color. The pandemic has been highly unpredictable, so I feel the series should do the same.
Inspiring ‘Into A Memory’
Though it is less vibrant in terms of color, the emotions driving ‘Into A Memory’ are much more intense. The thought of losing one’s own self is very difficult to imagine for anyone who has never experienced it. Although I have personally felt lost at times and can relate, nearly everyone can relate to the second piece as we have all lost loved ones.
The person I would cope worst with losing is my husband, so I focused this piece on the loss of a spouse. The main focus is on a man watching his wife fade into a memory, despite his desperate yearning to still feel the kiss of her lips and how she felt in his arms. There is a very romanticized element which stems from the love that lives on even in death.
The handsome, amazing man actually isn’t from my imagination – he’s my husband, Nathan. Of course, I’m the lost love. It sounds odd, I know (nothing new there), but I had reasons for the couple needing to be us and for Nathan being the survivor. The reason I drew us is tied back to the fact I wanted to put myself in the shoes of those who lost someone as much as possible.
It didn’t take a lot of thought for me to determine he had to be the one to live. When the question posed itself, my mind instantly was filled with sounds of our laughter, his voice saying he loves me, and the memories of moments passed. My brain reacted as though the loss were real, which I could not face but for a moment or two. I was crying well before I shook my brain out of crisis mode. Sobbing and drawing well don’t mix well, so reversing the roles would’ve failed miserably.
From either standpoint, imagining us not having each other is not easy. I definitely got the personal connection I had wished for, but I didn’t anticipate such a strong mental reaction. So I had to ask myself if it were right, sane or fair to put myself through even more stress and fear than my brain is already processing. I couldn’t decide if it were sane or not – I generally consider myself to be a bit off anyways. As far as it being right, being worth it – I 100% feel that it was. Honestly, it feels appropriate and the least I can do to empathize with others who can’t simply open their eyes and have their loved one back.
Empathy is incredibly powerful. It is difficult to give the level respect and understanding to the people and situations that we aren’t personally immersed in because human beings are innately self-focused. Out best tool to ensure we don’t neglect those who need compassion the most is empathy, whether we have to force it on ourselves or have already been through something similar.
Without it, we fail to relate in a meaningful way to the plight of others. It is common for someone to expect others understand our hardships and to give us a break when we are suffering. At best, it’s turning a blind eye. If we fail to empathize over time, we run the risk of becoming completely self-centered. We refuse to put the need of others first because we only have one point of view. We essentially become Donald Trump. Whether you agree with me or not on Trump, I just hope we can all agree to seek empathy, hug our loved ones tight and support one another.