New works and participatory experiences from a personal journey of emotional archeology

Following personal archeology of decades-long suppressed emotions, I am now embracing vulnerable content in Excavations, a new series of paintings, drawings, and installations to transform internalized trauma into strength.

Using works like talismans for emotional self-awareness, I unflinchingly explore themes such as boundaries, shadow work, the Fight/Flight/Freeze response, and self-worth in these paintings, drawings, and installations thematically linked by my healing journey. While advocating authenticity, self-awareness, and self-expression through an Empath’s lens, I encourage viewers to project their experiences onto my own by using open-ended narratives and participatory aspects that merge the roles of creator and viewer.

This series has its taproot in my painting installation The Portal, and stems from previous participatory experiences, including The Wishing Tree Project and the Meditative Labyrinth Elemental Suite.

The painting installation Excavations

In the painting installation Excavations that lends its name to the new series, a row of 16×16-inch cradled panels is covered by individual black curtains featuring identical black and white happy-faced self-portraits. Cords allow viewers to lift each curtain to reveal different self-portrait paintings of “hidden” emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, rage, and sorrow. Participants will also be welcome to select a small stone, focus on the weight of a heavy feeling that they would like to release, then place the stone on the floor under the Excavations painting that most reflects what they are putting down, forming small cairns under each panel over the course of an exhibition.

This work was supported by the Pamela Howland Independent Artist Fund and Arts Council of Winston Salem and Forsyth County. I am very honored to be named the 2023 recipient in the category of Innovative Interdisciplinary Art for this project.

Open the Floodgates

Visitors are invited to anonymously contribute any hidden feelings in the mixed-media participatory installation, Open the Floodgates. Participants may write their innermost feelings on a roll of shaped, collaged mulberry paper in cool colors with watercolor markers. Overlapping words gradually fill the paper with color over the duration of an exhibit. Cascading off a reclaimed, repurposed table, as the piece progresses, the mulberry paper is gradually pulled down a simulated riverbed of broken terra cotta pieces and river rocks to appear like water flowing free after a drought over dried, cracked clay. As I found each intriguing item during my city’s annual bulky item curbside pickup, I developed the riverbed into another example of emotional excavations as I broke various ceramics with a mallet to repurpose them into a subtle archeological timeline. This smashing “destruction reconstruction” itself became a direct emotional release. At the close of each exhibit, I will also cleanse and release the contributors’ watercolor words into a wash with water.

This and Boundaries: Cornered are my first two site-specific, repurposed found object installations.

Boundaries: Cornered

Visitors may carefully enter the circular, site-specific iteration of the installation Boundaries: Cornered to experience the boundary as their own. Based on my sensory experience of the size of my energetic field, a 90-inch radius quarter circle created from painted eggshells atop stacked retaining wall rubble is completed through reflection as I place reclaimed mirrors into two 90-inch wide by 90-inch-high sections that meet in a corner of the gallery. The eggshells, painted black, reveal bright yellow interiors. Unframed mirrors are staggered among those with painted yellow frames, creating a similar shape segmentation as seen in the eight-panel row of Excavations paintings.

Excavations as installed at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem Forsyth County Pamela Howland Independent Artist Fund | Amy Funderburk — featuring Excavations and other new works at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC.

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty – Concept Design

Please check back soon to view additional works as they are posted.