Art From Memory

Art From Memory

by Catherine Sheehan, Art Editor

If you know me well, you probably know that memory recall isn’t one of my strengths. Family trips, personal milestones, sentimental moments, and last night’s dinner are memories that I lose track of all too frequently. I’m not too sure why that is, but I’d like to think it’s because I spend most of my “thinking energy” on experiences in the present rather than reminiscing on ones from the past. Because of this, instances have passed where I draw a complete blank when a friend brings up a memorable story from our past. This then requires a few follow up questions from me before I can begin piecing the memory back together. Although I struggle in this area, I shrug it off and decide that reminiscing is just one of those bonus muscles we have in our brain that are fun to use but not essential. Quarantine, however, changed this for me.

I’m sure we’ve all learned a few things about ourselves during quarantine. It’s hard not to when most of your day is spent at home without the many distractions that we’ve grown so accustomed to. During the few months I spent at home with my parents, my dog, myself, and my thoughts, I learned to see the importance of reminiscing. Prior to my time in quarantine, I was studying in Copenhagen, Denmark and was forced to come home abruptly once COVID-19 hit. The independence, exploration, and constant newness that characterized my short time abroad immediately followed by months inside the same four walls of my childhood bedroom was a difficult transition to say the least. So where does art come into play? Well luckily inside of those four walls I have stashed a decades worth of miscellaneous art supplies. 

Still in shock from my abrupt departure from Copenhagen, I began drawing and painting without any direction – just letting whatever came to mind take shape on the page. But the shock soon wore off and in its place was an overwhelming sense of longing, sadness, confusion, but most of all a realization of how much I adored my life abroad. And so the following paintings revealed themselves as I thought back on the places, people, feelings, and experiences I had while abroad. As shown in these paintings, my time in Denmark had a lasting impression on me and I’m grateful for the time I was given at home to reminisce and create something tangible from these memories.

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