Emily M.

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untitled Credit: Emily M.Artist Statement

Death, loss, and grief are often ignored, dismissed, and taboo to discuss in our society. I am wondering how we can find ways to more comfortably engage with and open up to all parts of the human experience, even the painful ones. I am curious about how this may lead to a stronger connection with our individuation, community, and offer deeper engagement with life.

I have had my own experiences with grief and loss where I’ve been faced with the choice to either turn away from, or spend intimate time with it. Inviting the painful feelings into my awareness, giving the feelings permission to express themselves fully, though difficult, has offered deep transformation and times of renewal.

My current Art Therapy internship is working with people who are actively dying in hospice, their caregivers, and grieving loved ones. This experience has opened my eyes up to how much our culture shies away from and even blatantly ignores this topic. The inevitable reality that death exists understandably produces grief responses in us. People who are actively dying and grieving need and deserve to have people who will sit with them; to offer space for their grief to express itself. I have been witnessing my nervous system expand more and more as I work with this demographic, which is in turn aiding in a deeper connection with my own path in tandem with nature.

As carrion birds, ravens do the necessary job of cleaning up after death. Snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The more detailed raven and snake symbolizes how enduring and complex grief can feel. The gestural pieces represent how grief and renewing one’s sense of identity after experiencing a loss can feel messy and raw.

Pan chalk pastel, chalk pencil, colored pencil, ink, graphite
Oil pastel, ink