Through purposefully designed cyanotypes and wallpaper, “The World Forgetting,” a new art exhibit by Sioux City native Kathleen Scott, weaves a story of memory and sends a reminder of mortality to its viewers.
“As people and memories fade away, life takes over, “ Scott said.
“I wanted something that didn’t talk about aging,” Scott said. “I wanted to give the viewer an exhibit with an ethereal quality but focused on the life, too.”
Developed on silk, Scott’s cyanotypes (a type of cyan-blue print that dates back to the 19th century), each hold faces that gradually disappear upon their arrival at the largest print.
“The out-of-focus prints reference the fading of memory—similar to when you are no longer able to picture a person’s face,” Scott said.
The central print, a large cyanotype void of any face, demonstrates the pinnacle of the relationship between mortality and memory.
In her exhibit, Scott parallels the fading of the people and the waning memory of those deceased with an African belief in the two sides of death.
“When your memory fades, you forget about those deceased. But the same happens in reverse,” Scott said. “When the people pass away, they forget about you. It’s not sad or mournful. It’s a celebration of life.”
Scott embodies this celebration in her carefully designed “Traversing the Lethe” wallpaper installation, a reference to a river in the Greek underworld that causes people to forget about life on Earth. The vines and designs of this backdrop grow in prominence as the subjects in the cyanotypes fade.
Just as flowers appear at the culmination of her piece, the life was punctuated by flourishes.
Each person who passed on encouraged and nurtured the life that continued after them, even though the memories of ancestors faded away.
Scott’s dad was one of these valuable contributors to her own life, and as a result, some of Scott’s older works were lovingly crafted in commemoration of him.
Within these exhibits, Scott preserved her father’s love for things old-fashioned. This contributed to the feel of the story of Scott’s own mortality, “The World Forgetting.”
In a way, Scott grew up in the 19th century. As a child, she attended reenactments, wore prairie dresses and participated in the Lewis and Clark Festival with her family.
“I thought that’s what camping was—prairie dresses and shawls,” Scott said. “When I went to school, I thought my classmates were the strange ones when they said they wore something different.”
She said this immersion into a past way of life, coupled with her father’s admiration of it, greatly influenced her work.
“It gives a person a nice sense of escapism and sense of nostalgia for a time they never knew,” said Scott, explaining her theme.
She said she wanted her audience to realize how fluid society is and at the same time show how we dance along the lines when it comes to the relationship between mortality and memory.
Kathleen Scott’s “The World Forgetting” incorporates both the new and old to tell an intriguing tale of the passage of time.
It jogs the memory as well as makes a person wonder about what they’ve forgotten. It asks the question, “Who is the world forgetting?”
This exhibit will be available to the public from Sept. 21 through Oct. 19 in the Te Paske Gallery of the Korver Visual Arts Center.