From March 17 until March 31, art student Mallory Byrd’s senior exhibition, “I Kept the Roses,” will be displayed in the Samford Art Gallery.
“I Kept the Roses,” featuring a collection of over seven works made on canvas and fabric, was inspired by the journey Byrd experienced following the end of a relationship.
“It’s about the ways I went through each emotion and the feelings I had during this breakup,” Byrd said. “I went through a lot of things that I never really thought that I would go through, like sadness and brokenness and I really channeled that through my abstract pieces. I thought, ‘what better way to experience and come to terms with and understand myself better through painting my emotions?’”
In each piece in her show, Byrd confronted a different emotion she was feeling at the time that she was painting. For example, the piece “Restlessness” was about anxiety. Whenever Byrd felt anxious, she’d go to her studio and try to express her feelings on canvas.
Byrd explained that this process was very therapeutic.
“I can’t even describe it. You’re putting what you’re feeling on canvas. It was definitely a de-stressor and it helped me work through and understand what I was feeling,” Byrd said. “If I didn’t have painting, everything would still be cooped up and that wouldn’t be good.“
For one of her pieces, “Letters to My Younger Self,” Byrd created a centerpiece out of long drapes of fabric with printed phrases of encouragement that guided her through the entire process. The work functions both as a hallmark of heartbreak and as the signifier of a closed chapter.
“Within the show, I basically did the seven stages of heartbreak,” Byrd said. “The last kind of stage that I went through was freedom. Freedom from the hurt, freedom from the pain. While the hurt is still there and I’m still struggling with things, there’s a freedom in letting go of the past.”
Because each work of art is so large, Byrd had to focus on only one or two pieces at a time to conserve space in her studio. Arranging the pieces in the gallery was the first time that Bryd was able to see all of her work from August together in the same space. She explained how special this experience was to her.
“It felt really good. Like everything was put into place and it was like this beautiful story in the gallery. And it means a lot to me, so it was kind of emotional as well,” Byrd said.
“I Kept the Roses” will be on display until March 31. The Samford Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about Mallory Byrd’s art, visit her website at mallorybyrdart.wordpress.com.