Kelly Smith: Bring Us To Death
Words by Kelly Smith, edited by Efrem Zelony-Mindell
My work is about the relationship between life and death. Feeling anxious and trapped. Looking for an escape and not really finding resolution. I’ve always had an interest in death – seeing beauty in what’s often overpowered by fear. That, in combination with depression and anxiety, has led me to this body of work.
I think the mechanics of the body – how it works, how it moves, the bones, the muscles, the blood, the whole anatomy, is incredibly beautiful. And one day, it just stops. You become hardware, waiting to be buried, or burned, or dismembered and dispersed to people who need your spare parts. But then there’s the software. The brain, the mind. The brain is the most important part of your body. It determines whether or not you’re alive, and you have absolutely no control over it. Which is crazy. You can’t just tell your heart to stop beating. You can’t overwrite your brain with your mind. It’s so powerful. Yet something as simple as a chemical imbalance, or a hormone deficiency can make your entire world spiral downward. It can make your mind shut down. Out of nowhere you find yourself floating. You can’t get out. You can’t move. You’re stuck.
You can lose all motivation, and certainty. Nothing makes sense. You lose yourself. You lose capability of portraying emotions and you’re empty. There’s nothing.
Which brings me to death.
Death is, to me, the most beautiful part of all this. The mystery behind it. What comes after you die, if anything. Meat is something that people consume somewhat regularly. However, they get uncomfortable when they have to look at it or touch it in an uncooked state. It resembles human flesh. It’s staring at the dead. I think it’s something to pay attention to. Bones are so beautiful—they keep you up. There’s beauty in thinking about these things unconventionally. What may be considered gross, or visceral, or scary has a beauty built inside of it. It’s important to look past what makes you uncomfortable.