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  • Rachel Elizabeth

trauma in time

This piece sparked the concept of centering my thesis and capstone exhibition around capturing the psychological and physical symptoms of PTSD resulting from the trauma refugees face: from the death and destruction in war torn countries, to the life threatening journey towards safety, and the dangerous, temporary living environments of refugee camps.


Searching for evidence of art therapy conducted in these refugee camps, I stumbled across multiple articles documenting the drawings of refugee children in immigration detention shelters. I was struck by the terror and pain captured in these rudimentary line drawings, created by children who could not explain their trauma through verbal languages. But even if they had the words to express the injustices they've lived through, would we care to listen - let alone take action?


As I constructed this work, I considered the weight of unimaginable traumas that accumulate over time, effectively silencing the voices of those who have already lost their homes, families, and culture. They are exiled to a society devoid of empathy and understanding for their pain, and no way to make their reality heard.



The pendulum-like pendant reference the passage of time as the heavy forms weigh downward from the neck. It draws tightly, metaphorically blocking the wearer's voice. To open the pendant, one must reach behind to release the catch, requiring either the intimate or potentially invasive reach of a third party to access the imagery protected within. The inner mechanism swivels in three layers with the center lens distorting the gaze as one struggles to look through to the mirror below, indicating how trauma alters one's perception of themselves, others, and the world around them. The heavy forged chains, and the pull-through clasp mimic the curved forms of the pendant.

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© 2020 by Rachel Elizabeth Brainerd