Bountiful Davis Art Center
Jan 11- Feb 15th
Experiments In Empathy:
My Boundaries Were Too Fluid,
My Misunderstanding of the Responsibility of Empathy,
A Case For the Continued Practice of Creating Space For Empathy
This project came from research I was doing for my Masters. I was exploring connection through empathy and its barriers such as shame and judgement. Shame is a driving force of disconnection keeping us from living in the present and embracing the wholeness of our potential happiness. Empathy opens the pathways of connection because it is an emotional, as opposed to intellectual, understanding of another’s pain and cannot truly exist alongside judgement. Originally I wanted to sit with individuals and allow them to speak their stories of trauma in a judgement free space and see what kind of work I would produce by simply creating a safe space for us to “BE”. I discovered I had underestimated my responsibility in this by neglecting to address the power dynamics of the experiment. I found that it wasn’t difficult to exclude judgement of their experiences, however, I continually took possession of their pain. My boundaries were too fluid and I could not seperate myself from the “other”; I dissolved into them. I twisted each story around my own pains and shames that were locking me into the label of victim and keeping me from achieving a state of “Being”. I found, in order to move forward I must first move back- practicing compassion for myself in order to achieve empathy as opposed to sympathy for my companions. These works are the result of my experiments in empathy. From here I choose to examine and care for myself so that I may reach that state of “Being” needed to create a judgment and possession free space of wisdom and openness for empathy and connection to grow.