In the Loop
Student Stories : Mar 18, 2014

Burial by Evie Woltil Richner currently on display at University Gallery

Evie Woltil Richner’s MFA thesis exhibition, Burial, is currently on view until March 28, 2014 at University Gallery. Below is more information from the artist: 

"My project in lieu of thesis, Burial, consists of four works – two painted photographs and two videos, which focus on coping with my parents’ mortality and preparing for their future deaths. In these works, my parents pose reclined, as in death, in isolated natural settings. I cover over their photographed bodies with hand-painted shrouds of flowers. Gradually, as I paint, I obscure their bodies until finally I can barely make out their form.

In the videos, I interact with my parents in these environments, meditating on their future deaths, and creating ritual through the repetition of movements, such as holding their hands and stroking their faces. The ritualized process of burial and ceremony helps lend order to the often overwhelming experience of death. I use the ritualized process of painting—the slow, meticulous use of repeated marks and forms— and the ritualized processes used in the video—sitting with, looking at, and interacting with my parents’ still form—as a locus for the feelings of grief and fear I feel when contemplating the death of my family, as well as myself.  As I create these works, I meditate on the feelings I have about death–sorrow, anxiety, and fear–bringing them to the forefront, rather than pushing them away. The works in Burial then become a designated place for these feelings to exist. The pieces also become a highly personalized space for remembrance – both of the specific experiences surrounding this project, as well as a lifetime of memories I share with my parents.

Though intimate, the pieces are meant to prompt contemplations of death, mortality, loss, relationships, and ritual in the viewer as well. Death is often an avoided subject, but it is an event that we must all someday face. Through this work, I hope to become more comfortable thinking and talking about this inevitability."