Hannah Hillier
Multimedia Installation

After a recent experience with grief, I noticed I had difficulty connecting with the people around me. In particular, I struggled to relate to those who had never experienced grief at that scale. Many didn’t seem to know what to say to me, and even when they did it often felt inadequate. They looked uncomfortable and unsure or they tried to “put me back together.” They didn’t want to see my grief, despite it being a very natural process, and they weren’t okay with me not being okay. I wasn’t looking for a string of magic words or an easy fix, because there wasn’t one. I knew that. I was just looking for someone to say or do something that made everything just a little bit less awful, or at the very least, not worse.

I wanted the people who cared about me to be helpful, for their sake as well as mine. I had the urge to show them a set of instructions and say, “Here, this is something that can help you help me. This is what I need from you right now.”

That's what this project is: an immersive installation that uses typography, sound, and objects to communicate that set of instructions. Through listening and learning and seeing and doing, the audience is invited to better understand the ways in which they could hurt or heal. The installation speaks specifically to those not experiencing grief themselves, but who have ever questioned how they might be helpful to someone who is through both their verbal and nonverbal communication.

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