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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Art Museum opens grief, loss exhibit

A piece of artwork which shows pieces of hair sewn into a white shirt. This piece is on display in NIU’s Altgeld Hall as part of the “The Remaining, Mourn…” exhibition. (Caleb Johnson | Northern Star)

Death and mourning, both things are universal experiences and part of the human condition. The exhibit “The Remaining, Mourn…” now on display at NIU’s Art Museum, looks at these core themes. 

The exhibit was curated by NIU alumni Millicent Kennedy and artist Michael Chambers. This group exhibition features the work of nine artists and deals with loss and grief. 

One artist, Allen Moore, was inspired by the toys and video games he was given by his grandfather and his work is connected to those memories. 

Moore used the discarded plastic shells of the action figures he used to play with as a child and made a mural. Moore’s other art piece featured the ghost from the Pac-Man video games, a game which Moore had played with his grandfather. 

Many of the artists used items and themes like Moore that connected directly to their past. 

One such piece by co-curator Kennedy contained surgical instruments used by their father in his veterinarian practice. The piece was mirrors covered in colorful cloth with the instruments embedded into the cloth. 

“We’re addressing all the things that are left behind by a person. And you know the healing process itself can be very tough,” Kennedy said. 

Another artist, Monika Plioplyte presented her work containing a mixture of body portraits and landscapes. The art featured 3D images popping out of the portraits and used paper textiles.  

“I’ve been working with these themes of life, death and rebirth, for quite a long time, and I very often draw inspiration from my natural world and the kind of natural cycle of life,” Plioplyte said. 

She said that her work is also heavily rooted in pagan myths and her Lithuanian heritage. 

Kennedy also mentioned that experiencing loss was important in understanding this show.  

“The truth is these things always do come up, and there’s always these cycles,” Kennedy said. 

They went on to mention that it’s important to recognize these feelings and to find healthy ways to handle these situations. 

The other co-curator, Chambers, also mentioned that dealing with the effects of COVID-19 was an important factor in doing the show. 

“Essentially the structure of the show came out of the pandemic and people having experienced loss from it,” Chambers said. 


The two current exhibits will remain open in Altgeld Hall until October 14. 

The other open exhibit in the museum is “Dialogue,” which focuses on promoting listening, awareness, empathy and growth. The gallery features work from “Lines of Authority” by Alan Cohen, “Black Box” by Michael Coppage and “The Folded Map Project” by Tonika Lewis Johnson.

The next exhibits will be “What is for Supper? What is a Meal?” and “Food for the Soul: Belief and Healing in Burma/Myanmar in the Age of COVID.” The latter exhibit will be done in conjunction with the Center for Burma Studies.

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