Please Scream Inside Your Heart
September – November 2021
SMUSH Gallery, Jersey City, NJ
Please Scream Inside Your Heart is a tribute to finding humor and light amidst chaos. The exhibition title references an amusement park rule in Japan (instituted in Summer 2020), which asked roller coaster riders to “’refrain from vocalizing loudly’ to avoid spreading droplets” to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.* After watching the video embedded in the online article, my immediate reaction was a mix of snorts and giggles, followed by a feeling of kinship with the two masked patrons who remained stoic despite the nausea-inducing ride. The darkly absurd poetic phrase “please scream inside your heart” struck a nerve, and all I could hear was a cloying edict: fight what comes naturally. Whether we are told to “smile” or “deal with it,” women are often directed to behave contrary to our feelings to preserve the status quo. Despite having similar experiences, I felt compelled to suppress my anxiety and depression to perpetuate a calm daily lifestyle for my family during the pandemic. The result was increased stress and a stagnant art practice, followed by more stress. To break the studio stalemate, I obsessively sketched tally marks in pen, which eased the tension as I quickly filled page after page. I began drawing and painting playfully hued, amorphous mounds to encapsulate the infinite stitch-like marks. These whimsical forms resemble earthen protrusions, the female bosom, patient vessels, and self portraits. The body of work in this solo exhibition, Please Scream Inside Your Heart, reflects my joyful moments and high anxieties as a mother, wife, teacher, and artist while struggling to maintain my sense of self during the pandemic.
*Austin Horn, July 9, 2020, ‘Please Scream Inside Your Heart,’ Japanese Amusement Park Tells Thrill-Seekers, NPR.org