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The Remembering Room

The Remembering Room is a free interactive public exhibit that provides a communal healing space for people to process feelings of grief.

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Campaign Ends on December 23, 2022

Project Description

The Remembering Room

The Remembering Room is a physical manifestation of my eponymous book of poetry.

Last June, I was teaching a virtual writing course when my mom called and said that my dad never picked her up from work and that she wanted me to check on him. Figuring he got caught up in one of his hobbies and forgot, I ended my class early and sped to their house, angry about the interruption. His car was in the driveway - I could see that he’d been working on it that morning. The grass was freshly cut, and all the doors and windows in the house were left open. I trudged around the house, calling for my dad, looking in every room.

Silence.

And then a strange feeling came over me as I stood in the kitchen, wondering what was going on. A feeling that halted time. That made everything feel still and airless. I walked outside, and to my surprise, my dad was there, alone, in his chair on the porch. He was gone. He’d been gone for hours. He was only 61.

Two weeks after my dad passed away, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. And a year after that, to the day of my dad’s passing, I lost my dog of nearly fifteen years to the same disease that took my dad away. In a single year, my life had become so full of both grief and joy, of enormous loss and enormous gain, and I didn’t know how to feel about any of it anymore. Add to that the state of the world - the pandemic, the political and sociological eschewing of the fabric of our rights; our identity as a people, climate change, the economy, and our collective paranoia about where this spiral will leave us.

It’s all so much.

But as a creative, I truly believe - have to believe - that when we’re given this sort of front row seat to such life-changing feelings and experiences, that it’s our responsibility to channel them into something useful we can share. For me, all of this has birthed The Remembering Room. I think we need a collective space as a community where we can go to grieve and to work out the traumas of these past few years. Without doing this, how can we expect to move forward? How can we progress with fresh perspectives without first processing the grief and hurt and fear and loss we’re all feeling?

The Remembering Room was spawned from my new book of poetry that explores the 4 different stages of grief I’ve worked through. I want to build The Remembering Room into a physical place that functions as an interactive installation where people can share their own experiences, can write inside and on the exhibit, can sit with the imagery and artifacts in the exhibit, can add their own artifacts if they choose to, and can spend the time they need to process their own grief.

 

EXHIBIT MISSION AND PURPOSE

The Remembering Room is meant to create a communal space where people can go to sit with and process their own feelings of grief, loss, and existentialism. The exhibit is a meditation on the idea that life is a liminal experience, that being in our bodies is a liminal experience, and that the surrealism that deep grief creates allows for learning, growth, and connection when we embrace and explore it.

Visitors will progress through 4 rooms that represent the 4 stages of grief The Remembering Room explores. Each room is a surrealist interpretation of the process of each stage, and each room offers space for visitors to sit and contemplate as well as artifacts for them to interact with. They will also have the opportunity to contribute to this living exhibit by choosing to add their own artifacts and/or write in and on designated spaces of the exhibit. The Remembering Room is meant to be an exploratory and healing experience.

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The Remembering Room will be exhibited for 6 weeks at Atithi Studios in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from March 9th, 2023 - April 16th, 2023, and then plans to travel to other cities after that. The exhibit will be free and open to the public. Amanda will host the following events and workshops during the course of the exhibit:

  • Private opening with artist Q+A: March 9th, 2023
  • Public opening with live author reading: March 10th, 2023
  • Write to Heal public workshop: March 19th, 2023
  • Healing Art workshop: April 2nd, 2023
  • Closing conversation and live broadcast: April 16th, 2023

 

EXHIBIT OVERVIEW

ROOM ONE - DESERT

THE INITIAL STATIC OF SILENCE

Drawing of mannequin in costume, photo of room, drawing of desk

Everything in the world started to reverberate the moment I found my dad - the moment I physically saw death. Something changed inside of me on an atomic level at the sight of it. I remember hearing static, my mind going truly blank for the very first time, and then, unable to process the moment, thinking to myself, What am I looking at here? What is happening to me?

I stayed in that static for a long time, mentally wading through the trauma of the experience of that day, trying to piece together the difference between memories and dreams, vacillating between moments of a searing numbness and outbursts of deep pain.

The manneuqin in this room is trapped in a restrictive nylon garment that lacks openings for their limbs. Their head is encased in a wire headdress, buzzing with the static flap of moth’s wings.

This room is littered with surreal objects that are made from merged items that come from both memories and dreams - items half from this world and half from another; items that came to be in a time when grief had me teetering between the veil of this world and the next.

There is a writing desk in this room, full of handwritten poems, scraps, notes, scribbles. Visitors are able to sit at the desk and write in the journals provided, add to the writing they find there, and leave notes of their own - all of which will remain static in this cerebral and emotional desert.

 

ROOM TWO - MNEMOSYNE

EXPLORING GRIEF AND MEMORY - INTIMACY WITH THE VOID

Drawing of mannequin in costume, photo of orcas in ocean, drawing of woman in bathtub

When there was nothing but chaos, Hesiod tells us Uranus, god of Heaven, and Gaea, goddess of Earth, bore Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, because time cannot exist without memory.

When you’re forced to reconcile your own mortality, you realize just how brief life is - how everything we experience exists in a liminality of some sort: our lives exist in a liminal space between birth and death - during which time we live in bodies that create their own sort of liminal experience that seems detached from our consciousness, we live in a liminal space on Earth between the unreachable depths of the ocean and the limitless expanse of space. Only our minds break free of our liminal existence by exploring our imaginations, and in our grief, by exploring our memories.

Once the static of grief dissipated, I was plunged into a deep ocean of memories. And of yearning. I lived in the past for a long time, trying to ascribe meaning to my father’s death.

I’ve always found bathrooms comforting in times of stress and anxiety, and I spent a lot of time huddled in my bathtub after my dad passed, parsing through my memories of him, reading a lot of physics and trying to dismantle the liminal and linear understanding of time, hoping to time travel in some way. But more than that, I was trying to conceive the inconceivable - eternity, the existence or nonexistence of life after death, and the death process itself. It gave me the same shivers I get when I think about an ever-expanding universe or an ocean deep enough that creatures writhe in ink black waters.

In many seafaring cultures, whales are respected as one of the most ancient species on the planet, with a greater metaphysical knowledge of the universe and of existence.In some ways, science agrees, noting that their evolutionary past is singular and odd in that it seems to have worked in reverse fashion and is riddled with mystery. In this context, whales become gods of space-time; Mnemosyne’s muses; trying to show us that grief is necessary and useful but that existence takes many forms beyond our liminal bodies.

The mannequin in this room is draped in a sheer blue chiffon garment that symbolizes the thin veil between a body existing and not existing. They’ll be positioned in a bathtub with a false bottom that looks into a deep, darkening ocean - Mnemosyne’s ocean - where whales and other sea creatures can be seen.

There will be a strong audio component in this room that is a mixed compilation of audio from home videos as well as poems from The Remembering Room being read. Visitors will be encouraged to explore this room while listening to the recording, to look into the bottom of the bathtub, and to write on a designated wall if they wish to.

 

ROOM THREE - GRIEF WOMB

THE CYCLICAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GRIEF AND GROUNDEDNESS

Drawing a tree that looks like a woman with an open womb

Sometimes the deeply surreal nature of grief firmly grounds us in reality; forces us to evaluate ourselves in ways we didn’t know we needed to - ways that define who we are and who we will be. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my biggest fear was that he would be grown in a womb full of grief and be born to a mother steeped in sadness. I had to make a choice, and his presence in my body forced me to directly face and make some peace with my pain and my fear. The timing of his conception seemed like a message, and his birth revealed to me the cyclical nature of existence. Simultaneously grieving my father while experiencing my firstborn son grow in my womb - who my father would never meet - opened a portal in both my body and my mind, showing me that our bodies are liminal vessels of existence but that our existence is infinite.

This room will have a tree growing out of the walls whose curviture and form resemble a woman tangled into other bodies, with an open womb in the center of this piece. Visitors will be encouraged to leave artifacts of their choosing in the womb - things they wish to grow their understanding of; things they wish to let go of or change.

 

ROOM FOUR - ASTRAL

THE JOURNEY HOME

Drawing of woman in a rowboat, drawing of a rowboat on water

When grief folds space-time, we heal.

Our journey with grief is neverending, but our relationship to it can change and morph into something full of wisdom and growth. Though a nonreligious person, both my experience with and conclusions about grief are very spiritual. The experience of deep grieving brought me to a surreal space that asked me to grapple with enormous questions about the universe and existence - the heaviest of which being is there life after death, or is there nothing at all? And which makes me feel more uncomfortable?

In my father’s eulogy, I said, “We spent so many hours talking about religion and faith and God and our beliefs, and many times those long discussions turned into arguments because I just could not reconcile God and science. I couldn’t bring myself to believe what you believed. I couldn’t understand what you understood. What you knew. And I’ve spent years carrying an enormous fear of death.

But that’s gone now. Now I know that you truly know what it means to time travel, that you are everywhere now, that I can feel and hear you. You’ve won this argument, Dad. I don’t know exactly what I believe, but I know now that I choose to believe. I want you to know that I have heard and taken in every single word you’ve ever said to me. I carry those words. And now I carry the belief and deep faith that you had been trying to show me. You are now in the undiscovered country, and I’ll never fear death again because I know you’ll be waiting for me. You  knew so much. You knew everything. And I know it all now, too. To quote Spock, ‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.’

This is not the end.”

The mannequin in this room will be seated in a row boat.

The row boat symbolizes multiple myths and cultural beliefs that our souls are ferried to the afterlife, and it will have an extra seat for visitors to sit in and contemplate.

The manneuqin’s garment will appear to supernaturally flow over the boat and onto a false floor that creates the starry ocean on which they are traveling - symbolizing the merging of the mannequin with space-time and the interconnectedness of existence. Visitors will be able to view into the depth of the false floor ocean and see the same whales and sea life they saw in the bathtub in MNEMOSYNE - showing how close we are to the metaphysical but don’t know it (like in MNEMOSYNE) until we come to this last stage of grief and find a sort of immersion.

Allowing visitors to contemplate their journey while seated admist the physical representation of a metaphysical journey creates an exit to the exhibit that allows for closure, healing, and hope.

 

Heading text: Grief and the Surreal

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPERIENCING THE SURREAL

When our brains struggle to process a traumatic event, they tend to reach into the recesses of our pyche and create fantastical thoughts and perceptions. Sometimes these thoughts are difficult or disturbing, and sometimes they are revelatory. In both cases, it is this experience of the surreal that allows us to expand our understanding of our own existence whenever deep grief impacts us. The surreal is where interpretation thrives; where we go when words simply can’t capture meaning; where our interior experience expresses itself. Like deciphering a dream, the surreal nature of moving through grief asks us to decode our feelings about the thing we are grieving, in turn forcing us to learn more about ourselves and each other in the process. So while grief is a painful process, it is a necessary one - one that people so often try to avoid rather than traverse through. This exhibit aims to show people how traversing through the pain of grief also carries the opportunity for enormous growth, healing, hope, and connection. When we’re suffering, the surreal helps us define our emotions and, thus, our reality.

 

OUR TEAM

IMAGE OF 4 TEAM MEMBERS

AMANDA FILIPPELLI: Amanda is an internationally recognized writer, editor, and book coach, and author of Blue Rooms. Amanda’s work has also been widely published and featured, including in Barzakh Magazine, TEDxWomenPittsburgh, ACA/PCA, Pittsburgh in the Round, and WHIRL Magazine. She was the recipient of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40Under40 award.

Amanda’s work focuses on the importance of storytelling, helping her audiences understand that their stories matter. Amanda is also the host of Write to Heal workshops, where she helps people connect and heal through the power of storytelling. Before becoming a professional writer and artist, Amanda worked in the mental healthcare system for ten years, teaching adolescent survivors of trauma how to take control of their narrative. Amanda continues this work through her writing, workshops, productions, and as an artist. Her last book of poetry was adapted for the stage and premiered at the Andrew Carnegie Library and Music Hall in Pittsburgh, receiving critical acclaim.

THERESA BAUGHMAN: Theresa is an artist, drummer, and UX designer. Her work is fueled by a relentless desire to solve problems and a constant imagining of beautiful things. Theresa is a founding contributor to the online magazine What Sleeps Beneath; an academic perspective on the cultural importance of horror film. She is currently working on an independent research project regarding identity and climate change, and has a particular fondness for cold weather. Theresa was also the lead structures manager and builder for the stage production of Blue Rooms and has worked as a carpenter for organizations like Phipps Conservatory and repairing homes in underserved communities.

VAUGHN-SHANE CAMARDA: Vaughn-Shane is a passionate storyteller who is versed in several multimedia formats. As the lead audio technician for the stage production of Blue Rooms, Vaughn-Shane wrote and composed all of the production’s music and sound design. He also works as a graphic designer, can be found guest speaking on a number of podcasts, and regularly advocates for the LGBTQ+ communities through his art and public speaking.

JORDAN CORCORAN: Nationally recognized public speaker, mental health advocate and author, Jordan speaks to students and organizations about living with mental illness. Through her books, assemblies and national media placements, Jordan has shared her mission with tens of thousands of people all over the world. Her boutique PR firm, The Corcoran Collective, is a creative media hub that focuses on storytelling strategies, media relations, collaborations and partnerships in order to build out an organization’s brand in the community. With a specific skill set of selling human interest components to the press, The Corcoran Collective aims to take a brand, its mission, and their people to the next level.

 

BUDGETING

HOW WE'LL ALLOCATE OUR FUNDS

A project of this scale is expensive to build, but more importantly, this exhibit will be free and fully accessible to the public. It's so important to us that everyone, without discrimination, can utilize this healing space at their leisure. In order to make this installation entirely free, we need help from people like you who are invested in the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are committed to using upcycled and reclaimed materials, and are also working with community leaders to acquire many of the items we need at discounted costs. The following list is how our funds will be used for this project:

RAW MATERIALS COST (fabric, wood, paneling, sculpture materials, etc.): $7,000

AUDIO EQUIPMENT: $1500

PRINTING COSTS (exhibiting photographs, books): $500

PR+MARKETING CAMPAIGNS: $6,000

 

THANK YOU

This project is not possible without the support of our community, so we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for you. I developed The Remembering Room while working through such deep heartache and grief, and I want nothing more than to create space for other people to have the opportunity to also find hope and healing. With every creative project our team embarks on, we count on our supporters to help us provide creative outlets for growth and connection to our city, and we are forever in your debt for believing in us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support for this very special exhibit. 

 

 

 

The Campaign FAQs

Why is this exhibit so important?

The Remembering Room is a safe communal space that provides a creative environment that encourages people to process their grief, grow from their feelings, and find connection with others. After 2.5 years of a pandemic and all the political and social strife we've all endured, each of us is carrying a great deal of grief and loss. The purpose of this exhibit is to help alleviate that burden for us all. 

 

The exhibit is interactive. If I choose to leave an artifact in the exhibit, can it be returned to me or what will happen to my item?

The purpose of leaving artifacts in the exhibit is to either let them go or to signal that you want them to grow/transform/evolve into something else. For this reason, artifacts will not be returned upon the exhibit closing. Your item will be respectfully and ceremoniously incinerated in a closing bonfire with all of the artifacts left in the exhibit.

 

Why do you need funding for this exhibit?

A project of this scale is expensive to build, but more importantly, this exhibit will be free and fully accessible to the public. It's so important to us that everyone, without discrimination, can utilize this healing space at their leisure. In order to make this installation entirely free, we need help from people like you who are invested in the health and wellbeing of our communities.

 

How will you budget the funds you raise?

 

We are committed to using upcycled and reclaimed materials, and are also working with community leaders to acquire many of the items we need at discounted costs. The following list is how our funds will be used for this project:

  • RAW MATERIALS COST (fabric, wood, paneling, sculpture materials, etc.): $7,000
  • AUDIO EQUIPMENT: $1500
  • PRINTING COSTS (exhibiting photographs, books): $500
  • PR+MARKETING CAMPAIGNS: $6,000

 

Will this exhibit be free to the public?

Yes!

 

When and where is the exhibit happening?

The Remembering Room will be exhibited for 6 weeks at Atithi Studios from March 9th, 2022 - April 16th, 2022. The exhibit will be free and open to the public. Amanda will host the following events and workshops during the course of the exhibit:

  • Private opening with artist Q+A: March 9th, 2022
  • Public opening with live author reading: March 10th, 2022
  • Write to Heal public workshop: March 19th, 2022
  • Healing Art workshop: April 2nd, 2022
  • Closing conversation and live boradcast: April 16th, 2022

 

Is the exhibit accessible to people of all abilities?

Yes! We have applied for a microfund grant to help us make all the features of this exhibit inclusive, including providing braille translations of the audio components and making sure all the exhibit spaces are physically accessible. 

 

Will any of the exhibit items be for sale?

Yes! Several items will be for sale, including all 3 of the mannequin's handmade costumes, many of the merged objects in the Desert Room, and all of the original photography.

 

What's next when this exhibit is over?

We plan to travel to other cities in the hopes of bringing creative healing to as many people as possible!

 

If I don't live in Pittsburgh, how can I experience this exhibit?

You can follow the exhibit's progress through Amanda's newsletter and social media, but you will also be able to purchase prints of the photographs shown at the exhibit. We'll also publicly share our exhibit program, plus live stream our closing event, complete with a walk-through tour.

 

Have more questions? Email [email protected]

 

Stephen E Peisner
11/11/2022
Gallery Curator
$250
Lisa Ocilka
11/10/2022
Gallery Curator
$250
Brian Roscoe
11/08/2022
Exhibit Hero
$500
Celia Williamson
10/17/2022
A Little Bit of Hope
$25
The Newman Family
10/14/2022
A Little Bit of Hope
$25
Jackie Hamilton
10/14/2022
Gallery Patron
$50
Mary Lou Blasko
10/14/2022
A Little Bit of Hope
$25
Girl Parts PP
10/14/2022
Monetary Contribution
$22
Aly
10/13/2022
Premiere Support
$1,000
Casey Harvilla
10/07/2022
A Little Bit of Hope
$25
Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

3 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
A Little Bit of Hope

Your contribution helps bring hope, healing, and connection to our community members through art! Thank you for being a part of The Remembering Room.

6 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Gallery Patron

For your contribution, we'll give you a social media shout-out as well as list your name as a contributor in all of our email blasts! Thank you for supporting the incredible healing power of art!

4 Supporters
Select this reward
250.00 USD
Gallery Curator

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign)
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 print of exhibit photography

Thank you for your support!

7 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Exhibit Hero

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign) 
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 prints of all exhibit photography
  • A personal thank you during the opening night events
  • 15% discount on all exhibit sale items

Thank you for your support!

2 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Premiere Support

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign)
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 prints of all exhibit photography
  • A personal thank you during the opening night events
  • 15% discount on all exhibit sale items
  • Your choice of a pre-selected on-sale exhibit piece to own!

Thank you for your support!

2 Supporters
Select this reward

Rewards

Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

3 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
A Little Bit of Hope

Your contribution helps bring hope, healing, and connection to our community members through art! Thank you for being a part of The Remembering Room.

6 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Gallery Patron

For your contribution, we'll give you a social media shout-out as well as list your name as a contributor in all of our email blasts! Thank you for supporting the incredible healing power of art!

4 Supporters
Select this reward
250.00 USD
Gallery Curator

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign)
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 print of exhibit photography

Thank you for your support!

7 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Exhibit Hero

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign) 
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 prints of all exhibit photography
  • A personal thank you during the opening night events
  • 15% discount on all exhibit sale items

Thank you for your support!

2 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Premiere Support

At this level of contribution, you can enjoy the following rewards for supporting this exhibit:

  • Social media shout-out
  • Mention as a contributor in all our email blasts
  • A signed physical copy of The Remembering Room (USPS delivery upon close of this campaign)
  • Your name listed in the exhibit program as a contributor
  • 8x10 prints of all exhibit photography
  • A personal thank you during the opening night events
  • 15% discount on all exhibit sale items
  • Your choice of a pre-selected on-sale exhibit piece to own!

Thank you for your support!

2 Supporters
Select this reward