Emily Waszak is a visual artist of Japanese descent based in Donegal. Emily is undertaking the MA in Fine Art. Emily creates sculptural assemblages that involve the making and re-making of powerful symbolic object forms.
Emily's practice is materially driven and embodied. Her pieces are composed of found and natural materials collected from sites of industry, abandonment and the natural landscape, weaving thresholds into the unseen. With a background in industrial weaving, textiles are the starting point of the practice, though Emily engages other sculptural and spatially situated processes in the development of her work.
To Guide Shadows is a multisensorial installation in which ritual vernacular objects artistically activate space, holding the gesture of ritual acts and containing their own independent animate interiority and materiality.
This body of work merges the personal and the socio political. Informed by her broader research interests, political analysis and her personal experience of mourning the death of her husband during the isolation of the Covid-19 lockdowns, Emily offers this work as both a prefigurative resistance to the organised abandonment of the state in collusion with capital, and a love letter to her late husband. The work responds to the disappearance of formalised rituals in contemporary western society and the implications this disappearance has for grieving bodies, atomised by late-stage racial capitalism.
Themes of transcendence, repetition and otherworldliness are present in this work. The installation engages a series of large woven threshold forms and object assemblages. Cushions invite us to pause, to be protected and held, reflecting strength within their softness. Ceramic vessels serve as containers, empty or with offering, as ritual serves as a container for grief. Stones, shells and organic materials are made sacred in service of the ritualised environment.
Ritual imaginaries are built by deconstructing and rematerialising pre-existing ritual forms. Creating new, imagined worlds from the ephemera of ritual practices. Where ritual objects serve as a threshold into the unseen, a metaphysical trace of other worlds that we can summon through ritual practice.