This is a project that I did for my mixed media class at school. It was an installation, with audio in the background. I got really good response to it, despite a lot of people feeling rather queasy towards the blood and the implications of the entire piece.
I would like to begin by saying that the 'blood' in the bowl is not blood. It is incredibly believable blood, and the longer you leave it out, the more it looks crusted and like blood. However, it is not. It is a mixture of black tea and red food colouring. Watered down a tad because it was too dark. I thought that it would work, and it definitely did.
This whole piece is a small vignette, suggesting an event that occurred under the care of a house doctor. What occurred, we don't know. We just know that it didn't end well, as is a situation that many country doctors making house calls would have had to deal with. Not everything can be fixed or helped, and this is a moment in time that testifies to the gravity of that reality.
I was inspired by a song called 'O Death', and this image flashed to mind. 1930s-50s era country doctor, not visible, but elsewhere in the room or in the house. The residue of a death is on the table. Pocket watch stopped, crucifix laying on the table, covered with the wax that has dripped from the last flickering candle. It struck me as the kind of moment that occurs, and leads to the necessity of having morticians and undertakers. The reality of this humbled me, and so began my need to knit together my present vocation as an artist with the future path of an embalmer. It is a dark situation, and something that we don't want to discuss or think about. Never before did I really think about the fact that a death would have to occur before an embalmer doing their job. Of course, I did. I'm not wording it very well. I suppose that it's more that I didn't think of the history of this gravity, and how focused that sadness is. In this vignette I created, the house is the only place in the world that is witnessing that death. It expands beyond that place, but for a moment, it is in one place, affecting one group of people. Tragedy, but the rest of the world moves on.
These are the kinds of things that I often think about. How tragedy affects pockets at a time, but it is how we respond to it that makes the difference.
Every day I think about these things, the part of me that was likely once an embalmer and will be again (I hope), grows and I am more certain that this is important to me. It is overwhelming in its importance, and how it affects my world.
That is the best way I can describe how I felt when I thought of this installation, and the themes that came along with. I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, but certain that it something I need to accept, and something that I need to be involved with. I don't know if I could comfort the grievous family and friends, but ensuring that they know that their loved one has been treated with dignity and respect is important, and that is something I could do.
I am rambling. I don't even know if I'm making sense. Regardless...
That is what triggered this art work.