Jennifer Rose Wolken, “Catalyst”

Jennifer Rose Wolken
Springfield, Missouri

Granite, Mylar, Handmade Paper, Glassine, India ink, Acrylic paint, Linen Thread, Leather
46 x 7 x 9

Artist Statement

There are many different kinds of grief, and not all grief has the same outcome. This book is about one specific instance of grief and its impact. In 1975, my Mom’s brother died in a creek high in the mountains of Colorado and his body was recovered six miles away in Denver. Although this happened four years before my birth, I have always had a sense of grief over him. After visiting where he died, I wanted to explore how this grief was different from the grief I felt for my Dad, who died when I was 36 years old. During this exploration I realized much of what I felt about my Uncle was empathy for my Mom’s grief. But I also came to realize that his death was the catalyst for change in my parent’s life. A change that gave me a much different life than I would have had otherwise. This piece is about that event, the grief it caused, the search for answers that grief set off, what my parents found, and the profound changes they made as a result. Representing the parts of this journey are granite rocks collected from the creek my Uncle died in, and three bound sections following them. The first bound section is painted and torn mylar pages in a coptic binding. Followed by matte black ultra-textured handmade paper bound in a long stitch section to represent the overwhelming grief my mother felt immediately after. This tapers off to a sprinkling of black paper bits as an accordion formatted section emerges. This section is made from a long piece of glassine backed by mylar with handwritten text detailing what they learned in white and gold ink. Taken as a whole, this piece represents the journey of the grief that was the catalyst for change in a family’s life.