On December 23rd, 2019, I received a call from my doctor that irrevocably changed the course of my life: we had lost our third child at 16 weeks gestation. On December 27th, our baby had passed and we experienced the unbearable grief of losing a child. At the same time, media outlets were already covering the story of a novel virus that had originated from Wuhan, China and it appeared to be spreading quickly around the globe. Too consumed with my own recovery and grief, I barely gave the virus any thought.
Artwork Description: The intent of this piece is to capture the time and intimate space between knowing and not knowing if you have conceived a child. In an attempt to share the anxiety of the unknown, these often private moments exist between a woman and her potentially fertilized ovum. Signifying the start of her journey as a vessel, “The Veil” represents this fragile, often unaccounted for time frame when a woman’s body is open and begins the process of pulling energy from the Universe. This piece is the first in the Fuego series, as this pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage at 16 weeks.
In the midst of our great tragedy were also two little girls, our daughters. It was holiday season and they were filled with so much joy and excitement. While we honoured the loss of our angel baby, they could not fully understand the physical and emotional trauma of what I had just experienced. Their lives went on, while mine was frozen in time. At first, the grief was all consuming. I felt a surge of creativity and wanted to transform my grief into art production. “How can I share my story of loss through my art?” I began with research on miscarriage and pregnancy loss and found a staggering statistic, ¼ pregnancies end in miscarriage. I then went on to research art that focused on this theme. I was astonished to find very little on the topic. How can something so common be talked about so little? I knew I needed to add my voice to this too common experience and to share my grief as a means to connect with others while also providing a space of comfort and healing. As a result, I created a body of work titled Fuegito, my little fire, that attempted to capture the raw emotions of my loss and grief. This work served as a means for me to process what had happened while also advocating for others to share their stories of loss too.
Artwork Description: The light bulb shape represents my womb. I chose this shape because it is often used in relationship with having an idea. In regards to this piece, it represents the false ideas I had when I began my third pregnancy journey; that I will have this baby and that nothing could go wrong. The bright red, orange and yellow symbolize the burn I felt during this pregnancy as my womb often felt on fire. It is because of this that this body of work is titled Fuego or Fuegito, my little fire.
As my body went through hormonal withdrawal and as I bled for weeks, I leaned into my practice for healing. I was able to transform my sadness through my creativity and the artwork became my therapy. As I shared my work to my online community, I was taken aback by the numerous messages from other women who had similar experiences to my own. My connection with them affirmed the need for the work and the relationships I have forged through our online platforms have sustained my motivation to continue to share my voice as a woman and mother.
Artwork description: I carried our baby for 16 weeks; 112 days. These two paintings represent the cell division of an embryo. Defects or chromosomal anomalies can happen within the first days or weeks of gestation. In each of these paintings I applied 112 layers to represent every day that my body nurtured this baby. I then sanded, 112 times, off the surface of each painting. This methodical approach is a symbolic reference to the build up of hormones that I felt in my body. The sanding away of layers represents the residual hormones that lingered in my body for weeks, months after the loss. Pregnancy loss is loss. It is physical and deeply emotional, and is only fully experienced at the expense and surrender of a woman’s body.
Eight months after Fuego, I suffered another miscarriage at 10 weeks gestation. Having gone through the pain already, I found myself a bit numb. I again leaned into my artistic practice. As an interdisciplinary artist I have the ability to communicate my narrative through a multitude of creative outlets: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, textile, video, songwriting, singing, poetry and writing. As a result, the medium is always the message in how effective the artwork will be communicated. This aspect of my creative process allows the production of the work to fluctuate across the spectrum of artistic expression.
Artwork description: Blood Thoughts is a poem song that I wrote in response to my two recent experiences of pregnancy loss, both within this year and during the global pandemic. Even though the pregnancy does not result with a live baby, the woman still experiences all the physical and hormonal changes that happen during a pregnancy. Miscarriage and pregnancy loss are experiences that are often silenced within our society, forcing the woman to process through the grief alone.
After our second loss, I revisited a body of work that I began two weeks before we lost Fuego titled “Even though I’m not “working”, I’m working”. I put this body of work on hold because it was hard for me to face images where I was pregnant with the baby we had lost. I felt compelled to complete this work because I was feeling an immeasurable amount of strain and exhaustion as a working mother and a stay at home mother; especially now during a global pandemic. The pandemic forced me to pull back from my career so that I could take on the bulk of responsibilities in managing our children and the household work. With school and daycare closed indefinitely, it was the best choice that we made as a family. While the decision we made was best for our family, I couldn’t help but think of all the other mothers who did not have this choice or those who had to continue to work and care for their children, or those who were also forced out of the workforce in order to care for their family. “Even though I’m not “working”, I’m working” was created to honour the role of the caregiver. The stay at home parent or the working parent who also manages all the household work and their children. Mothers have taken a huge hit as a result of the pandemic and our work, paid or not, should be acknowledged and valued. These photographs are symbolic trophies to the work I do as a stay at home parent, even though it’s not valued economically in our society.
My practice continues to serve as an outlet of communicating my most personal experiences. My work operates from a vulnerable place and within that space I have come to understand that what is the most personal is often the most universal. My artwork thrives within our shared human experiences. It is through our connection that we begin to carve out a platform of space that is safe for our voices to be acknowledged and heard.
Loss during a global pandemic has taught me the value of my artistic practice. My mental stability is contingent upon this release of creative expression. I continue to create because I need my living children to see how art can be used to process trauma and how it can begin the process to heal.
Artwork Description: This series of photographs is intended to elevate and honour the role of the caregiver. The stay at home parent. The working parent who also manages all the household work and their children. It is the most time consuming work that we don’t consider meaningful because our system is based in dollars and in our economy it’s all about how things equate to money.
The concept of care; to care for something or someone is intentional focused work. It is energy output from one person to another person or thing. Being attentive to another person’s well being is work and raising the next generation is one of the most important jobs in our society.
Like baby shoes dipped in bronze to preserve a moment in time, I preserved the efforts I have put forth in my job as a stay at home parent. The work I do is work and deserves a platform for my symbolic trophies.
About Kasey Jones