© 2015 Tessie Barrera-Scharaga. Website designed by Gabrielle Scharaga

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Life Line

Mixed media installation incorporating clay treated objects, found objects, and video.

2004

 

I have never renounced my right to express the loneliness, the anguish, or the horror of things.

- Pablo Neruda

 

Clothes preserved in clay, never to be worn again. A conspicuous absence of the person whose story these objects tell. Can memories be sealed and protected, just as clay preserves objects and organisms from a distant past? In October of 1999, my daughter Amanda was killed in a car accident. Losing her took me into a territory of human experience beyond language, to places of absolute despair that are beyond description. In grief, all the things that were familiar to me, the things I counted on, were completely dissolved. I no longer had the protection of my ideas about how things worked, how life worked, or how to make sense of the world.

 

It took a very long time to be able to contemplate, much less, create, any work following the sudden and shattering loss of my daughter. In this installation clay and video are combined to create a space where memories can be cherished and preserved. Honesty is something I’ve always admired in other artists' work, and I strive to maintain it in my own. Exhibiting the work of the years since I lost Amanda has been the greatest test to this ideal. In attempting to describe parts of that unknown territory where the meanings of my world disappeared, I am forever wrestling with displaying my own vulnerability and pain.

There are no maps or markers to plot our way through grief and I consider this installation a testimony of my journey. I don’t know how else to speak of my experience. I don’t know how else to describe the devastation Amanda’s loss brought to my soul.