COPING WITH GRIEF: THE GREAT FLOOD ’93
a multimedia installation
My preparation for an art exhibit scheduled for Fall 1993 involved creating collages using elements I collected during my Summer 1993 lecture series trip in China.
Upon my return from China, however, I was faced with the loss of my home due to flooding along the Mississippi River near Clinton, Iowa. In late August, recognizing my need to grieve my loss, I began attending weekly meetings of a flood-related disaster support group in Iowa City. Being involved in this support group helped me recognize my need to use my art to cope with the events. Thus, I set aside the collage exhibit in order to create an installation in response to my wide mood swings and feeling immobilized by The Great Flood ’93.
My personal belongings, and the walls of my daughter’s bedroom, damaged by the flood waters, were used to create the installation. I also included my own personal journal entries, photo documentation, and videotaped interviews of flood victims throughout Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. Approximately 3000 small vials were filled with Mississippi River water — my way of containing the raging river — and became an essential part of the piece.
Personnel from the Grant Wood Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Mid-Eastern Iowa Community Mental Health Center, Iowa City, encouraged me to make the installation available to a wide audience as a catalyst for emotional healing to those affected by the flood. The installation served as a trigger for feelings and recognition of loss, and offered the viewer an opportunity and permission to express personal grief. Presented as a participatory arts experience, Coping With Grief: The Great Flood ’93 involved performance, art therapy workshops, and discussion / sharing sessions. It was supported, in part, by The Emergency Disaster Grant Program of the Iowa Arts Program, and The National Endowment for the Arts. For further information about this installation or other art works, please contact the artist.