DEAD: The Transformation

Amber Friedman | Artist Statement

Before June 5th 2016, DEAD was just another word I saw spray-painted around Powell River; it meant nothing to me. DEAD wasn’t a word in my vocabulary. DEAD wasn’t something I ever thought of until my dad died, when DEAD then had a meaning; it had endless and exhausting meanings. I was flooded with ideas of what DEAD meant, questioning it extensively.

The week before my dad died, I had been driven to paint. I could see a new body of my artwork everywhere I looked, and it seemed like a dream come true! I started painting, after painting, after painting. I had to get all of these images out of my head–they were haunting me. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be painting: a ship sinking, ‘The Day’, ‘Haunted’, ‘The past’, ‘Daughter’… stacks of events in little boxes, like calenders from my whole life, were appearing on silk. I felt shaken, overwhelmed and vulnerable. I kept painting. My paintings were terrifying me. I kept painting. When the phone call came that my dad had died, all of the paintings made sense.

A shaman said to me, “Death is not real, grief is real.” At this point, it’s hard to know what’s real. These paintings, though, are real. They are my truth, my journey and my transformation, my realization that DEAD is all over the place. DEAD is every woman who comes into motherhood and loses herself, DEAD is recovery, DEAD is change, DEAD is awakening, DEAD is realizing that you’re 45 and not 25. DEAD is everywhere–it’s everyone of us, and we’re all doing it.