How's Howard? is pleased to present a solo project by Leah Craig. In Progress: Performing Grief is an examination of grief: its potentialities, performances and progressions.
Given Craig's cultural disconnection from religious ceremonies and rituals around grief, she has found her personal experience within contemporary U.S. secular society to be stifling. Specifically, Craig sees mourning (the public expression of grief) as often limited to formal sacred spaces and practices.
In Progress: Performing Grief unitizes Craig's personal experience with grief. She invites a dialogue about what warrants public mourning, and which performances are socially acceptable. As a means of processing loss, Craig weaves cuttings of her hair and clothing, along with a deconstructed burial shroud, into a tapestry that is at once a mourning cloth and a repository of grief artifacts. Craig believes in the potential of ritual to heal and of shared vulnerability to humanize. She seeks collaboration through intimate transactions of cutting hair and clothing from her body. These improvisations create meaningful space for progression through and performance of grief.
The death of Craig's father was the point of departure. All materials and details in this exhibition are directly tied to her experience of her loss. In Progress: Performing Grief was derived from the phrase “Quiet please, life transition in progress”, a sign which was taped to the door of his hospital room as he was in the process of dying. The clothing Craig wears in the performance has gone unwashed and unworn since the hours Craig spent wearing them beside her father until his final transition. The loom and warp thread installed in the gallery are sized to allow for a tapestry that is the approximate height and breadth of her father's body. Craig's hair (uncut since this significant loss) is an artifact of this transitional experience and the period that follows - a tangible reminder of that swath of time.
In the performances (May 1st, 11-5pm & May 6th 5-9pm), participants are invited to cut a piece of Craig's hair or clothing and pin these cuttings to the wall. There will also be an opportunity for participants to write on the wall about their own experiences with grief. Craig's hope is that through this collaborative effort, she will expand and complicate what is both acceptable and possible within the public expression of grief.
2008BFA University Nevada Las Vegas
2012MFA School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University