Emily de la Rocha

Artist Biography

Putting Yourself Back Together Again is a collection of oil paintings that aims to capture private moments people may have when coping with trauma in their everyday lives. Everyone encounters some kind of trauma over their lifespan, and despite that trauma people carry on with their everyday activities. They are still able to work, have families, find happiness. The ability to cope with traumatic experiences is a fascinating and essential part of the human experience, and that is what was examined in this series of portraits. The intention of these paintings is to depict how a person might feel in these moments, and further, show how I have personally felt, reflected upon, and validated my own emotions through the process of self-portraiture.

The models were painted on mirrors of various sizes and are surrounded by frames that I felt as if fit the mood of the painting. The paintings depict models expressing what I felt could be private moments of emotion. Deeper exploration of these emotions was conducted through self-portraiture. Through the self-portraits I was able to explore my own traumas and how I deal with them on a day to day basis. The paintings express a wide variety of emotions, capturing moments frozen in time.

This series acts as a witness to human emotion and the struggles we face. I hope for the viewers to be able to appreciate and consider the troubles we all face, and how they may be using coping mechanisms to make it through life.

Thesis Abstract

Putting Yourself Back Together Again: How Art Serves as a Coping Mechanism for Emotional Trauma.

This thesis investigates how people who have experienced significant emotional trauma continue to live day by day with the stress, and how they healed. The questions under investigation in the literature review are: How do people heal after trauma? How do people cope with the negative experience while they are still trying to heal? And how does art contribute to the process of healing from trauma? To further explore these questions, arts-based research was conducted by the artist-researcher creating a collection of oil paintings of models as well as herself in what she portrayed as private, emotional moments. The artist began with painting models, and eventually shifted to painting her own image to allow for deeper investigation and reflection. The final series contained three portraits of models, and two self-portraits that act as a witness to the emotions the artist was working through at the time. Lastly, the artist-researcher’s interpretation and reflections on the results were discussed.

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