How a 25-year-old dealt with her mother’s death through art

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Charlotte native Sloane Siobhan lost her mother on Nov. 9, 2016.

She didn’t have much time to deal with her grief, with a course load to wrap up at Appalachian State University in order to graduate that December.

With her mother as a muse, Siobhan had already finished the first three pieces in her series that was unfolding, “Archetypes of the Subconscious.” Her paintings showed powerful animals, like the one titled “Overthinking” featuring a roaring grizzly bear, and bees as antagonists to explore the inner-self’s emotional struggles.

“Overthinking”

“I really did not want to be in the studio at all,” Siobhan said. “…Grief set in. Anything I make at this point, she’s not going to see it.”

But she finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and painting concentration. She returned to Charlotte and something changed.

“I noticed something inside me was telling me, just create something,” Siobhan said. “Because if you don’t you’re going to self-destruct, because you’re going to bottle everything in.”

She started to paint again and stopped numbing the grief. She continued to use her mother as her muse to complete the “Archetypes” series. After all, she was the one who had encouraged Siobhan’s drawing as a child, then her enrollment in Northwest School of the Arts for middle school and high school, then her choice to pursue art in college.

“She told me, follow your heart and follow your passion, and do art,” Siobhan said.

Now Siobhan’s works are displayed in the exhibition “Archetypes of the Subconscious” at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture through Jan. 22, 2018. Viewers can grab a pair of 3-D glasses to explore the powerful animals in her paintings on a deeper level.

“Hopefully the viewers can get a little bit more interaction that way than just looking at it,” Siobhan said.

Consider how Siobhan looks at the sadness and loss that influenced her works: “It’s not just a loss of a person, it’s a loss of a mentality. Especially with the panda, you lose that innocence, you lose that naiveté of being a child.”

“The Tipping Point”

Consider how the works reveal the conflict between the subconscious and the conscious.

“If they can feel a little bit of that sadness or a little bit of that loss,” Siobhan said,” … it means I’ve done my job well.”

See it

Archetypes of the Subconscious” by Sloane Siobhan opened July 22 at the Gantt Center and is on display until Jan. 22, 2018.

Other new exhibitions on view are “Simple Passion, Complex Vision: The Darryl Atwell Collection” (through Jan. 22), “Instill & Inspire: Selections from the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art” (through Jan. 22) and “Immortal: A New Series by Miya Bailey” (through Jan. 22).

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture: 551 S. Tryon St.

Photos: Courtesy of Sloane Siobhan, Katie Toussaint

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