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The Presence of Absence: Exploring the Shadows of Death

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: McKenna Goade

Shadow is an ephemeral index that implies a presence and absence simultaneously, a duality I am curious about in relation to something non-physical. Shadow is a reference that connects something that is there, to something that is not. This body of work-informed by the post-traumatic stress I suffer from due to my dad's colon cancer and subsequent death-interrogates the skewed perception of time and memory brought about by this loss through the examination of shadows. I explore shadows as a reference to something that is physically absent but is present through memory and objecthood-and how that energy transfers into our possessions after we die. When experiencing a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) flashback, the subject is forced out of the present and into the past-the boundaries of time dissolve and invade the current moment. It is an ever-present challenge for people with PTSD to remain in the now. As an individual suffering from PTSD, I choose processes that allow uninterrupted access to memory and allow my hands to continuously connect to the surface, supporting unbroken streams of connection. I intentionally access memory by recalling a specific sense, the color of a hospital blanket, the sound of an oxygen machine, or the smell of disinfectant-these memories fuel the imagery and materials of the works. I aim to communicate the importance of an uninterrupted stream of memory through my sustained drawing process, choosing materials that support continuous mark-making. This process is a means of exploring how potential energy becomes kinetic, moving trauma through my hands and onto the surface, parallel to the way one's objects house their energy post-mortally. These works are observations of my father's worldly objects and the diverse ways their shadows interact with different surfaces-they become representations of time and memory melting into one present. I use projected images of these shadows onto varied surfaces to interrogate the mixed outcomes of implied absence or presence. The intent of this research is to personally order re-emergences of past traumatic memories disguised as present moments and to allow the viewer to experience disjointed memory and feel the presence of absence, to observe the bodily sensations of post-mortal energy through objecthood.
University / Institution: Utah Valley University
Type: Visual Arts
Format: In Person
Presentation #A5
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Arts
Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Giannell