Portfolio > Ruminating

Sarah Weiss
Artist Statement

Last year one of my coworkers died by suicide and it made me ask the question, how can we cope with such a heavy feeling? My desire to create this work is to normalize the stigma society shares around depression and mental health.

Since leaving my childhood home, my family has moved many times. I have watched them slowly and individually drift to different corners of the country. With each visit, we attempt to pack a year’s worth of time together into a few short days. This resulting dispersion created a shift in both my understanding, and experience, of family and home. The photographs in this series depict the distance, longing and depression I experience within my family, while searching for a way to rediscover a sense of home.

Depression is a widespread secret; my mother has it, my partner has it, I have it. This work has drawn from those relationships, what I see when I look at depression as an outsider and what I feel when I turn to look at my own.

The experience of living with depression is not necessarily all negative, but a series of fluctuations of ups and downs over the course of prolonged periods of time. With this series, I attempt to convey what those daily fluctuations feel like: how it can feel like overwhelming darkness or leave you unseen and lost, chasing after moments of light.

Ruminating focuses on the underrepresented aspects of depression, including the daily experience, and how relationships between myself and those around me have developed. The photographs reflect ambiance, transient interior spaces, disconnected portraits, and landscapes interrupted by atmospheric light, suggesting moments that reflect emotional realities, each are assembled into non-linear double exposures.

This photographic series is installed as floating sculptural prints made of silk organza. The photographs become forms; delicate, floating translucent fabric surfaces, which allow for the viewers to feel the confusion and sense of loss that depression and distance cause. Printing directly onto fabric creates a changing image, a type of double exposure. It represents different perspectives and this technique also allows the images to interact with one another in a shared space.

By walking in to a room filled with floating silk images I hope to express the experience of having your mind filled up with repeating jumbled thoughts and feelings. It should feel overwhelming as viewers move through the work, becoming more engulfed and lost in it as an experience. The intent is to create an atmosphere that surrounds the viewer with overlapping imagery forcing them to experience narrative in a completely different way. Rather than a linear narrative the installation creates a story that has no beginning and no end. This type of storytelling is more open and allows the viewer to create connections organically, emphasizing the desire and experience of searching and discovery.

The differing print sizes allow for the contemplation of how rumination lingers in daily life. The flat doubled images give the viewer a slightly more uninterrupted view of the double exposure, which emphasizes their importance in the series. The formed images are hard to define, echoing the struggle of depression and loss. There are moments of stillness in the series, while a few larger single images help connect the overwhelming experience together to create a possibility of order in chaos.