This collection of one hundred floral mixed media canvas paintings by artist Julie Dahl-Nicolle is curated by the RAD Foundation and displayed in the MVC Pavilion. This exhibit dives into the realization of what we have all experienced over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a sense of loss. Whether that be the loss of loved ones or a loss of what could have been – everyone has been impacted by this year’s events. This exhibition of paintings will bring acceptance and understanding to loss all while giving us hope & joy for the future ahead.
During opening night, there will be a live participation portion of the evening where guests can participate in hanging their clouties – an homage to the Irish Rag Tree tradition. Clouties are sometimes left as gestures of acknowledgement and respect for the spirits of the land, and sometimes as prayers requesting general blessings or specific aid from those same spirits. The Crann Bethadh also known as The Celtic Tree was a connection to the world of the spirits and the ancestors, living entities, and doorways into other worlds. In a time with so much division and loneliness, let us move forward & enter this new season of blessing.
written by Julie Dahl-Nicolle
Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
In the days following September 21, 2018, I felt compelled to paint, and in fact, to paint flowers. As a portrait painter, this surprised me, as I have never before had any desire to paint flowers. I followed my instincts and began what I soon realized was a ritual of grief and healing. I painted obsessively. I dreamt of a room filled to the brim with flowers, saturated in color and life as a tribute to Rebecca. One hundred paintings became my goal; a number large enough, I felt, to be worthy of her. In my studio, as I worked, I indulged my grief. I held Rebecca there with me as I listened to music that reminded me of her. I cried, felt angry, sometimes talked to her, sometimes danced. I soon realized that this daily ritual was a way of making a space for Rebecca and for my grief in my daily life. I began to heal.
As I drew close to completing the series I realized that I was dreading finishing the work. Letting go of the studio ritual felt like letting go of Rebecca. I am slowly learning that grief does not end; we incorporate it into ourselves and move forward changed. Havelock Ellis said, “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” I am learning to live in that contradiction.
We have difficulty in our fast paced contemporary culture making space for grief and often hide the experience of death and dying. We can look for guidance from those that do make room for rituals of remembrance—from Shiva, the 7 day period of sitting in mourning of Judaism to the annual Mexican celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos, there are so many ways of remembering.
Over the last year and a half we have lost so very much. So many loved ones have died, so many experiences and rituals were set aside while we were forced to draw into ourselves and our homes. While this exhibit is a result of my personal ritual of remembrance, grief, and release, I invite the community to participate in honoring loved ones by adding a flower, ribbon or note to the tree.