Final Studies: Brian Tom

Undergraduate Student, Oberlin College

Visual Art and Psychology

Title of Exhibition: The Rest In Pieces

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All You Have is Your Name

Death is inherently funny. It is not humorous like a joke, but the ways in which we express our feelings of death and the process of grieving are ironic. When we experience an irreversible loss, we grieve by constructing a “permanent” monument to represent and honor the dead. This comfort in the permanence, some form of legacy, is what drives the appeal of a tombstone or a donation in the name of the deceased. Thus, there is simultaneously a fear and a desire derived from this idea of the irreversible.

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Left: Why So Blue? Right: These Are For You

In thinking about the passing of those close to me, I have been reflecting about the reality and consequences of this irony. It is true that a tombstone may last hundreds of years, but what is its value when those who knew the person no longer exist?

This same tension is hidden within the opposite event; our understanding of birth and childhood. The development of children within the first few years of life is outstanding, yet in our minds we imagine our youth as a fixed moment in time. We often keep these memories as if they were frozen in a glass case and forget about our rapid period of change. Once again, even in the beginning of our lives we find comfort in the illusion of a permanence.

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Left: And Many More. Middle: Tadp(old). Right: Bless You.

My sculptures challenge these notions of artificial permanence through the humor created by the contrast between formulaic gestures in a recontextualized setting. Yet, as I have gotten older, my own personal views and conversations around these subjects have changed and as a result, my artwork has acted as my diary for each stage of my life. In a way, these sculptures, a physical reminder of my past thoughts and actions, are my own fleeting attempt to create permanence by documenting the ephemeral.

For more of Brian’s work:
Instagram: @plan_brian

Final Studies are in partnership with The University of Akron and are made possible with support from Fifth Third Bank and the Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation.