First, some amazing news: I was awarded an Ontario Arts Council Visual Arts grant for Grief Landscapes! I’ve been working extremely hard, so it feels incredible to get the recognition and support for this project. I feel grateful to have landed in a country that supports individual artists in this way, even if it’s not always easy to string those grants together.
To be honest though, I would find a way to do this project no matter what—it’s been a deeply meaningful artistic and personal experience making this work so far. Since launching Grief Landscapes at the beginning of January, I’ve published the first four stories, and have started to receive more from all over the world. Every single submission moves me. I’ve also heard from many others about how reading the stories so far have already helped them learn a lot about how other people grieve.
The main thing I’m focused on now in addition to photographing is continuing to generate submissions so I can select a wide range of stories for the project. I’ve been spending time writing grief counselors, bereavement organizations, online grief support websites, and anyone and anywhere I else I can think of to help get the word out.
I want to hear about as many experiences with grief as possible of course, but I also want to uncover stories that aren’t often told. For example, I would be very curious to hear a story from someone whose boyfriend or girlfriend died, either from a young or older person. How did his or her family treat you in the aftermath of a loss like that? I’m also very interested in how it feels to grieve someone with whom you may have had an unresolved complicated relationship. Or what about losing a close mentor or teacher? An ex you were still close with? A twin?
Another thing I’ve been thinking about is that a theme that I keep coming back to in my art practice is “questions and connections”. I touched on the topic of questions before in a previous post, but as this project expands and more people are taking part, I’m realizing that even though I’m not working with people in person this time, the same dynamic of honest questions prompting honest answers that lead to new connections is still here in the online space. I hope it keeps growing. I’m not the kind of artist who likes to squirrel herself away in her garret to make a body of work and then present it to the world fully complete. I can’t help myself—I’m a total extrovert, and my process involves needing and wanting a feedback loop that invites anyone who is interested in the topic I’m working on to chime in. I like having a room of my own, à la Virginia Woolf, but I like that room to have the door open a lot of the time with a big welcome sign on it.
If you have ideas or thoughts about the kinds of stories you would like to hear in Grief Landscapes, or if you have any questions you have about grief that you’re curious about that you would like to see addressed through the work, please comment here or on Facebook, or contact me. Also, if you have ideas about places or people that I can get in touch with that will help me expand the reach of the project, that’s really helpful too.