Mother – Almonte Art Installation

A reflection of loss and hope

by Barbara Carroll, bereavement counselor

A garden shed, 100 small floral paintings and a solitary viewing experience… these are the elements that will play out in an art installation titled “Mother”. Conceived as a contemplative space to reflect on the theme of loss, the paintings specifically reference an important woman in the life of artist Jennifer Zeitz, her mother who died during Covid.

Why a garden shed? “My mother’s garden was her refuge. Like many women of her generation, she found time to care for plants, cultivate beauty, and raise children. There has never been a more critical time to connect with things that can bring us peace,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer and others lost a loved one at a unique time in everyone’s experience. Those of us who haven’t lost a family member during Covid are lucky for sure, but we all share some of Jennifer’s grief – those losses and grief imposed by the context of the pandemic.

We have all suffered huge and less tangible losses over the past two years. We have lost our world and our place in it. We have lost our sense of security. We have lost a good degree of control over our lives. We can no longer count on our future hopes, expectations and dreams. We lack direction and the sense of purpose we had. We have lost our sense of security. Some of us no longer have a sense of financial security due to unemployment, and others have lost faith in an overwhelmed and failing healthcare system. We are not the same people.

As we come to terms with the grief of these losses, we have also missed what normally mitigates the loss and gives us strength and courage to work through grief: the ability to connect with a support system, to see the family of the way we cherish, to interact with other people, and feel the comfort of their presence and love.

Jennifer has created a beautiful contemplative space on the theme of loss. It’s a different way of reflecting on our grieving process, in tune with our different reality. We all carry an unusual combination of losses and need different ways to grieve. Jennifer’s installation gives us that as we sit back and reflect on our own losses, against the backdrop of Jennifer’s expressive portrayal of how she experienced the loss of her mother during the pandemic.

“The arts have always been great healers,” says Jennifer. “Like gardening or singing in a choir, there are activities that, by their nature, enliven and transport us. I hope people find some hope and light in this space.

The installation is intended to be experienced in solitude. The garden shed will be open Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout August. Access will be via Colborne Street in a quiet lane. Please follow the instructions posted outside 66 Farm Street in Almonte.

Christopher S. Washington