In May 2021, Grief Grit Grace commissioned Brooklyn-based painter and designer Yeesan Loh to capture the belongings of loved ones lost in a series of watercolour illustrations.
A glimpse of Yeesan’s colorful table in Brooklyn.
Exhibition in Brooklyn, NY
During NYCxDESIGN Design Days in May 2021, the original watercolour paintings were on show at the IC Store by WantedDesign in Industry City, Brooklyn.
People were also invited to contribute their own objects and stories to the virtual gallery. Visit the exhibition This is How We Remember: Left, Kept and Created to read the stories behind the objects.
MEET THE MAKER
Interview with Yeesan
What was your experience like, personally and professionally, working on this commission?
Personally, it was a moving and profound experience because I had just lost a very dear friend and mentor a few days prior to Charlene contacting me about the project. Because of that, I have to admit that it was at times painful, but such is the process of grief.
I think it gave me a chance to grieve with a purpose (if there is such a thing) by doing something that I love while helping others celebrate their loved ones.
Professionally, it inspired a theme that I would not have otherwise explored on my own.
Did anything surprise you about the process of working on this collaboration?
I think for me, it was less a surprise than it was a revelation of sorts … and it is that grief existS because of love. And in both love and grief, we don’t fight against … we surrender.
Have you created or commissioned anything else in memory of someone?
Not yet, but I did specifically ask to inherit my friend’s collection of tobacco pipes, which I am planning to do a series in memory of him. And make prints of the pieces for the people who loved him.
Are you open to taking commissions in memory of a loved one from other people?
What advice do you have for people looking to commission a custom illustration of their loved one’s belongings?
I do think the “object” can also be a subject. By that, I mean it can be a living thing like a pet or a plant. My grandmother passed away over a decade ago, and my green-thumbed sister inherited one of her many cacti. It is still, not only flourishing, but she has made many baby plants from it. I am going to paint the mother cactus one of these days!
Also, the beauty with painting and illustration is that (with some reference images and a detailed description), it can recreate something that no longer exists.
MEET THE MAKER
About Yeesan Loh
Yeesan Loh is a painter, writer and designer. Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she is now based in Brooklyn, NY.
“I am a self-taught artist. My mother used to say we were the cheapest kids to raise because all we ever wanted were paper and colored pencils.
Art is an expression, it is a way to connect with people, it is meditation and universal communication. To put it simply, I love creating fun and beautiful things that are visually delightful and enjoyable.”
The Grief Gallery: London Design Festival 2021
GRIEF GRIT GRACE
The Grief Gallery is a project by Grief Grit Grace and curated by Charlene C Lam. Visit www.griefgritgrace.com for more resources and information about my approach to grief work.