“In 2017 I was invited to participate in a residency taking place in Venice, Italy. It was a residency happening in conjunction with the 2017 Venice Biennale. The loose theme was to do with Venice’s historical position as a merchant cross-roads for different cultures from distant lands juxtaposed with its current position/approach to refugees seeking asylum.
Originally I was approaching the work in response to my outrage at a deeply disturbing incident that had occurred not long before. An African refugee drown in a Venetian canal while several tourists on the vaporetti shouted racial slurs, took pictures with cellular phones, and even filmed the man drowning from a nearby location.
It was actually posted online!
Where was the humanity in this? I was shocked at the callousness and absence of anyone reaching out to save this person. This was someone floundering for their life and it was more important for people to take pictures of it??!!!!
I began to work on a composition that represented a more positive opposite; what if someone HAD reached out.
In the midst of my preparations, the work became much more personal: I lost my younger brother to suicide. My world on many levels was shattered and suspended. I was ready to abandon the work and not do the residency at all. Family convinced me that my brother would want me to continue. Although that time felt, and still feels like a fog, I did go through with it. The setting is still Venetian and has some of the same original intent, it also represents the horrible vortex of emotions, pain, and desperation that enveloped me as I grieved my brother’s loss and my inability to save him.
I believe this dichotomy of light and dark lends itself to different impacts on different viewers, who may or may not know its origins.
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