Worries - we all have them. They keep us awake at night, can influence our behavior and at times be great motivators. My newest work and "series" is about these thoughts, some of which can be some of our most private inner conversations.
Inspired by a perfect combination of family history ( catholic and jewish family - both known for worrying),a natural forward progression in my work ( having dealt with loss of innocence/ fear of what is in the shadows in No Adults Allowed & safety/ security/ the need to shelter from the outside world in Sleeping Houses ) and an adopted Greek grandmother that collected worry beads; my new body of works are mixed media, ceramic and photographic, "portraits".
Worry beads are something to sooth the soul, to handle while nervous, to give a place for worried energy to go. I decided in dealing with the idea of worries, not only to delve into the concept of worrying but to try and transform the worries I’m dealing with. I’ve asked several people to write down their worries for me, specifically 19 to 21 worries they have, as a strand of worry beads has 19 to 21 beads per strand. With their worries I am creating actual ceramic worry beads- one strand of beads per person- forming the beads with the actual written worry. As the beads are made, the clay must be fired in an oven to transform it into a ceramic bead at which point the written worry is burned up, not able to withstand the heat of the oven.
Depending on how it’s looked at this act of burning the worry either traps the worry in the bead or releases it into the smoke of the fire, both transforming the energy of the worry into another form. These strands of beads are made in a way to be somewhat of a portrait of the writer of the worries, via color, form, decoration and texture and after the strands are completed will be photographed in the hands of the worrier. These photographs, while not exposing the facial identity of the worrier shall be a portrait in full, as hands can sometimes be more descriptive than a persons face.
It is in beginning phases, this project is one that takes time – time and care to create the beads, time to travel and create the photographs; time to find the place to exhibit it as it exists in my head. I hope the journey to the final creation is as transforming as the work itself.
Below are some images of the first strand of worries...
(© Tamara Rafkin 2011 - images and concept)