Tulsa mausoleum hosts work from local artist who was inspired by grief

“This current series, it was the absolute best thing I could have done when I was in the depths of grief.” - Mery McNett

TULSA, Okla. — Mery McNett will be showing her artwork from a series called “Grief and the Full Cup of Joy” at the oldest and largest mausoleum in Tulsa.

The Abbey Mausoleum was built in 1927. Four additions have built at the mausoleum over the past 100 years.

The mausoleum is the perfect setting to experience McNett’s art series “Grief and the Full Cup of Joy.”

“This current series, it was the absolute best thing I could have done when I was in the depths of grief. I lost a job I loved in 2018 and again in 2022, and I lost my soulmate Gonzo and my father five weeks after, in 2020,” said McNett.

It was in 2020 when she began to pour her pain and grief into creating art.

“Art is a way to communicate for me. I am not a verbal person, at least not as much as I wish I was. This work has evolved into a series about grief, called “Grief and the Full Cup of Joy,” named after a journal entry my father made in 1998,” said McNett. “The hidden joy is represented not only in specific imagery but in the bright, striking colors that are a juxtaposition to the dark imagery.”

McNett has always known she was an artist for as long as she can remember. She drew her first art piece when she was two. It was a picture of her mother coming down the stairs and giving her a bottle of apple juice.

“As far as doing art for a living, it is what I live and breathe. I also knew that I wanted an occupation where I helped other artists. That is my passion,” said McNett. “Art leads to conversation and is a universal language, crossing any language boundaries. It brings people together and attracts new ideas. It creates curiosity and creative thinking. Art is what makes us human.”

McNett says that this art show can open up difficult conversations on grief.

“It is such a hidden emotion in our culture, at least in western society. People seem to not want to talk about it. And I understand because it is sad and depressing,” said McNett. “However, if you face it head-on, it becomes one of the more exhilarating things you can do. Even though each experience with grief is deeply personal, it is such a universal experience and if we are more open about it, we connect with others and you do not feel so alone.”

McNett says so far the response to her work on grief has been powerful.

“I didn’t expect the reaction to this series. People that came up to me and shared their own personal stories and experiences with grief and how my work has encouraged them to face this head-on, was inspiring and healing for me, said McNett

The series will include paintings, videos, and interactive installations. Karen Lacy will also be reciting poems she has written inspired by grief.

The “Grief and the Full Cup of Joy” series will be shown this Friday, Feb. 10 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Abbey Mausoleum at Rose Hill.

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