Exactly two years ago this month, I told my husband I wanted to separate. The title of my solo exhibition at Galleri Urbane, Cluster Fail, is a play on humorous slang. Cluster fuck is a colloquial term that people use to describe a difficult time, moment or situation. By giving levity to chaos and tragedy, we can mitigate the pain of the situation and chuckle at the absurdity. This was the working title for my first paintings post-separation. Not wanting to trivialize the tragic nature of recent life events, I kept the Cluster and added Fail. This described the failure of the system to protect myself and my girls form my ex as well as the failure I felt trying to shield my children from trauma.
The opening was well attended and it was a thrill to meet some of my collectors. Also thrilling was receiving three press mentions. The first one was leading up to the event:
Then I was listed as one of the top art events to see the weekend my exhibition opened by the Dallas Observer:
2277 Monitor St.
Artist talk 4:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday
“Marion Wesson created the upholstered works in Cluster Fail during the aftermath of an abusive relationship. The first piece is based on a night she called police to her home. “I based the fabric design on the violent outburst of when my ex grabbed me while screaming and yelling in front of our children,” she says. When she made her story public it elicited an outpouring of support she had not anticipated from other women. Determined to help others in her situation, she partnered with a former Rhode Island School of Design classmate, who helped her illustrate the fabrics. The designs are inspired by true stories of women who have survived abuse. Admission is free.”
The latest press mention came from Culture Map Dallas:
“Cluster Fall,” Marion Wesson at Galleri Urbane
Opening reception: May 13, 6-8:30 pm
Exhibition dates: May 13-June 17
Before my opening reception on May 13th at Galleri Urbane, I gave a talk about my work. I thought I had prepared for my talk. I spent a couple of weeks writing, then making flash cards, then reading and re-reading the flash cards (I was even planning to transcribe the talk to this blog). When it came time for the presentation, I felt like I froze as I abandoned the prepared words. The emotionality of the work took over and I even broke down a couple of times. Allowing myself to cry alone seemed acceptable but in public? I talked about things I didn’t expect and felt empty pockets of omission. Emotion catches me off guard these days. I think I’ve passed the time of mourning 20 years of my life. Instead the haunting continues and the regret and pain linger.
After my talk I met a very interesting woman who was transcribing a sort of impromptu interview then posting it on Instagram. It was through this informal chat that I realized the connection between my ex ripping up my paper calendar in a vengeful rage and the title of the painting we were discussing (Cluster Compendium). Though obvious to her, I hadn’t consciously made the connection.
I have spent many hours, days, and weeks crying. Crying for my children, myself, a broken heart. Are these tears a wasted practice in self-pity or a cathartic necessity? I’m finding and embracing love from a kind man in lieu of another bully. I refuse to revert back to attracting relationships that hurt. I have given in to being loved by kindness instead of settling for fleeting glimpses of happiness. I no longer have to search for a happy meaning in mistreatment. I will never waver in my conviction for happiness. I put joy in my purse as I drive carpool. I put joy in my pocket as I take my children to the park. I feel joy at 5 am as I make school lunches. Joy, you put your arm around me, you whisper affirmations, and help me sleep at night.
This Month’s Music: Fenech-Soler