Beaverton's Reser Center opens new exhibit on grief, COVID-19
The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton unveiled new exhibits on June 22, including one centering on grief and loss from COVID-19.
"1,000 Moons" is free to the public at the Reser's gallery, which is open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The exhibit, plus another called "Invisibilia," will be available until Aug. 13.
Forest Grove-based artist Emily Jung Miller created "1,000 Moons" after her grandparents died from COVID-19 in January and February 2021.
Using materials that held her memories of them, Miller formed 40 large sheets of paper to cut into circles, representing the 1,175 full moons in her grandmother's 94 years of life.
The exhibit showcases the moons strung together, hanging from the ceiling. Meticulous visitors may notice there are only 629 moons hanging, and uncut handmade sheets of the same medium are hung on the wall.
"The show at the Reser is 50 years of moons — 629 moons — so I'm not done, and that's kind of the point," Miller said. "Grief is not a linear process, and I'm not really sure that there's an end that you reach. So I've been really trying to focus this project on wherever I'm at with it right now, rather than trying to get it done, because I don't even know what that really means."
Though "1,000 Moons" is about Miller's grandparents, she said the whole project is more community-based.
"I know a lot of people have lost people they love over the past few years, whether it was from COVID or just during COVID," she said. "And before that as well, I think there's been a real lack of space for an ongoing grief process in our culture."
People seem to just deal with grief on their own, then they come back and they're "fine," Miller said, but that's not how she's experienced it.
So Miller has been hosting Zoom talks to invite people to open up about their grief. With the Reser, Miller will be speaking about her art and hosting a grief session on July 20.
The project is about her grandmother's death specifically, Miller said. But it's about more than that, too.
It's easy to close down and focus on the numerous COVID deaths — it's scary, she said — but Miller wanted to make a difference in the "wall of fear and denial" many people have experienced.
"It's a project about a life, and not just about deaths," she said. "It's about the full span of my grandmother's 94 years of life, and I had hoped that would provide more of a space for compassion and potential for growth, because it's not just their deaths that matter. Their lives also matter."
Miller said "1,000 Moons" turned out to be a good fit with the other exhibit at the Reser, "Invisibilia," by Jefferson Goolsby, Sandra Honda and Mei-Ling Lee, because of their focus on Asian-American stories and the history of Japanese internment camps in the United States.
"I haven't really explored the Asian identity aspect of this project until this show," Miller said, "but it's definitely something that I've been dealing with personally. … It was actually a really nice opportunity for me to look at it from a different perspective."
Miller has other exhibits regularly across the metro area and on the Oregon coast. For a full list of galleries, upcoming events and more, visit www.ejmillerfineart.com.
A previous version of this story listed the time of the grief gathering as 2 p.m. July 20. The gathering will be at 6:30 p.m. This story has been corrected.
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