Painful Memories Transformed Into “Representations of the Unconscious Self.”

For the last ten years, artist Mercedes Gertz has been turning painful artifacts – wedding photos from doomed marriages – into stunning works of art.  Using a scanner, Gertz and her collaborator, Nancy Louise Jones, transform unwanted bridal portraits into mandalas – circular diagrams that originated in Hindu and Buddhist spiritual artworks. Karl Jung once deemed  mandalas “a representation of the unconscious self.”

Gertz herself was divorced 11 years ago, but could not bring herself to discard the photos of her wedding. In talking with friends who were also divorced, Gertz discovered that she was not alone.  As Gertz puts it:

None of us ever had the guts to get rid of our wedding pictures. We were raised to see our wedding day as the most important day of our lives—to fantasize that for one day we were princesses chosen by a wonderful prince, and that we would live happily ever after.

In addition to finding solace in her friends, Gertz also began studying Jung, and his philosophies helped her change her perspective on the end of her marriage.  They also inspired her to create the mandalas.  Gertz began to collect her friends’ unwanted photos, and with Jones, constructed the mandalas by cutting the bride, or part of her dress, out of the photos, and then arranging the images in circular patterns.

The results are beautiful and occasionally disconcerting.

Says Gertz of her project:

My intention is to create a space where [the bride] can exist with out the need for a groom or someone outside of themselves for completion. In this way they embody both the archetype and its consequences. Marriage and divorce are seen in the light of false expectations. Art has that power of deconstructing and constructing an idea by giving it a body and a shape.

Like the “Museum of Broken Relationships“, which I wrote about in February, Gertz’s mission is aimed at transforming the singular pain of a marriage’s end into something both collective and transformative, not only for the subject but also for the observer. Check out more of Gertz’s work on her personal website, and one the Frank Pictures Gallery site.

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