During the COVID-19 pandemic, many end-of-semester events celebrating student achievements have required new modes of expression. Each year, graduating art majors show their work in a senior exhibition in Judson’s on-campus Marian Acree Tucker Gallery. This year, an in-person event was not possible for senior Toria Mendow’s exhibition, “Creator”. Katlin Bailey ’12, a former art major who now serves Judson as Creative Services Specialist, conducted a brief interview with Mendow about her work and artist statement. As we share the following photos of Mendow’s pieces as an online exhibition, we invite you to explore her words alongside her work.
In your artist statement you say that your work is about your “emotional journey”–how you have struggles with expressing your emotions and yourself, and how you’ve grown as a person. Do you mind sharing some of the difficulties you’ve encountered with your emotions and self expression on this journey?
“[One] of the difficulties that I have encountered and overcome was when my dad passed away. I was only 15 years old when he passed away, and it was hard for me to accept the grief that I was feeling. Instead of expressing my grief through my emotions, I shoved them away. When I got older, all those emotions that I had bottled up for so many years finally overflowed, and it became a rough journey for me to learn how to express myself again.”
How does art help you express yourself?
“For a while, I constantly tried to express myself through words, but that just made me more confused. Art helped me to exert the emotions that I had onto a physical surface that I could see.”
Would you describe of one of your pieces that resonates most deeply with you?
“Chaos resonates with me because it is the greatest representation of the chaotic emotions that I felt swirling around me when I was trying to find myself again. This piece drove my decisions in the process of making my show because I wanted to show others that even though all the things that I went through were not the brightest or happiest, [they] were a stepping stone to greater things. I chose charcoal [for that piece] because I wanted to represent the rough, dark place that I was in at that time.”
You mentioned in your statement that you chose to make both abstract and representational art for this show. What led you to that decision?
“I chose to have a mixture of abstract and representational art because emotions themselves are very complex to both represent and to put into words.”
What advice do you offer to those struggling with similar experiences as you?
“Never give up on hope and faith in God. Many people who have gone through what I have been through have often felt lonely, helpless, and unloved, but that is never true because we have a God that will always be here and always loves us. God has great things for everyone. So what might seem terrible today won’t compare to what God has for you that is to come.”