Friday 22 September – Saturday 28 October, 2023
Grief Weaving is a solo exhibition from Donegal-based visual artist Emily Waszak that explores grief through ritual, repetition and time. Featured in this exhibition are Waszak’s “Grief Weavings”, a series of 40 automatic weavings created in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s death in April 2020, during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
I am a visual artist of Japanese descent based in Donegal. I create sculptural assemblages that involve the making and re-making of powerful symbolic object forms.
My practice is materially driven and embodied. Pieces are composed of found and natural materials collected from sites of industry, abandonment and the natural landscape, weaving thresholds into the unseen. With a background in industrial weaving, textiles are the starting point of my practice, though I engage other sculptural and spatially situated processes in the development of my work.
My work merges the personal and the sociopolitical. Informed by my political analysis and personal experience of complicated grief, mourning the death of my husband during the isolation of the Covid-19 lockdowns, I offer my work as both a prefigurative resistance to the organised abandonment of the state in collusion with capital, and a love letter to my late husband. My work responds to the disappearance of formalised rituals in contemporary western society and the implications this disappearance has for grieving bodies, atomised by late-stage racial capitalism. Ritual is the vehicle through which we can communicate with the dead and glimpse the unseen. Themes of transcendence, repetition and otherworldliness are present in my work.
Though not a literal representation, my work is informed by my cultural heritage. In exploring ritual, many of the reference points I return to are rooted in Japanese culture, including Japanese tea ceremony and the Japanese Buddhist practice I share with my Obaachan (grandmother). I also take inspiration from the wild Donegal landscape, my husband’s home place, the place where he is buried and the place where I now live.