The Penn Graduate Humanities Forum, unknown to me until recently, but in existence since 2000, offers programming across the humanities. Each year, a different theme is chosen: Travel; Word & Image; Sleep & Dreams; Belief; The Book; Time; Style; and this year's theme, Origins. Here are the paintings and related statement.
Origin: Identity, Trauma, and Memory
Lacuna, from the Latin lacuna: a cavity, a hollow; a pool, empty space, or missing letters or words in a manuscript; a gap in memory.
As a therapist working with women trauma survivors I became intrigued with the idea of “what’s missing” relative to identity formation and memory. Many survivors’ identities were formed around traumatic experiences and the gaps in those memories.
Vague, miasmic clouds of color portent indefinable occurrences. Layers of pigmented wax, once molten, form transparent layers that play against opacity to suggest clarity muddled by uncertainty. Marks beneath layers suggest the unknowable, or that which is only marginally accessible. Blank areas appear vacant—was there something there once, or never anything—or vestiges of the unfathomable?
For most survivors of complex, lifelong trauma, the very origin of their lives began around trauma, neglect, and abuse. Seeking answers and understanding through exploration of who one is and where one came from may mean emergence into pools of shame, pain, confusion. Viewed through the lens of trauma, what is present in a memory can be as painful as imagining what might be obscured or even irretrievable. These paintings seek to honor the struggle with identity, memory and healing.
image left: Lacuna 3 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24
image right: Lacuna 7 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24