Learning to see like an artist can enhance creative solutions to the problems of everyday life, especially during loss or conflict. Looking at examples from art history can sharpen the inherent ability to "see" as humans while unlocking our potential for change. Art history and my artist practice have provided me with tools to work with my own grief and I want to share them with you. Through this art practice and educational project, I focus on unresolved grief from death, and other losses.
Please check out my Workshops & E-courses under the Work tab on this website. You can also email me directly at Beth@robinpress.com.
Through my artwork, I explore the process of bereavement by creating collages and book structures. This started when I was eight. My grandfather, who was my best friend, died. The adults around me were heartbroken at his unexpected death. Even in their shock and awkwardness, they had the forethought to provide me with glue, magazines, and scissors. I learned to be fully present in those sobering moments of youthful innocence about death and refused to lose my sense of wonder. This art practice cultivated an outlet for the unique conflicts grief and change prompt. At that time, I had no idea how well these skills would serve me.
Over a five-year period starting in 2005, my remaining grandparents, my father, youngest brother, several uncles and my mother died. Bereavement made me focus on creating more artwork, then showing it in a public sphere. Grieving people continually come up to me during my art shows, confused by trying to intellectualize their experiences with loss and not finding relief. Through working with them on their art expression, I realized that my discomfort was not with death, but with what I saw a prevailing cultural norm of grief avoidance.
Before finishing a BFA degree from Oregon College of Art and Craft as a Ford Restart Scholar, I was a certified picture framer and paper restorer for 14 years. In 2007, I was awarded an opportunity with the University of Georgia to live and travel through Italy studying the conservation of books and art as a conflict dispute resolution tool during the Renaissance. My artwork has been celebrated in the public view for over ten years in both the United States and Europe. Showing my artwork publicly lead me to a Masters program at the University of Oregon Law School in Conflict and Dispute Resolution and working as a private practice mediator and conflict/grief coach. I work with grievers and their companions to find alternate ways of expressing grief and mourning during disputes. Also, I care for cultural property as a paper conservator and museum technician for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon, and am restoring a Chandler and Price Letterpress machine.