— by Regan McGrory
Regan McGrory stands in front of her exhibition, which consists of an upside down American flag hung on the wall, and a number of prayer candles displayed on the ground in front of it.

Thesis Question:

What is temporary memorialization and how have temporary memorials come to represent the face of public grief in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic?


Now that you’re in your final year at Moore, what are your plans for thesis writing and for your thesis exhibition / project?

My plans for thesis writing are to continue my research on the concept of temporary memorialization, focusing on recent temporary memorials in the United States that are / have been dedicated to the memory of victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that I’ll have the continued opportunity to immerse myself in the study of my chosen topic.

As far as my plans for our upcoming thesis exhibition, I am trying to be a more flexible person and a more flexible artist. The world is an ever-changing place. Our academic experience at Moore is ever-changing, as is the way we relate to our own art and the work of other artists. I hope that my exhibition work is thoughtful, interesting, and above all respectful of the nearly 700,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, their loved ones, and their communities.


How do you plan to use the MFA in Progress exhibition as an opportunity to work towards other concerns?

Until quite recently, I had this very specific vision of the way that I wanted the MFA in Progress exhibition to go. My plan always had been to create objects, to build things and then put them together. Circumstances have forced me to let go of that idea, at least for the meantime, and focus on 2D work that is more of a visual presentation of specific research than anything else.

Because I will be working with graphics, design, layout, etc. for a two-dimensional project, I hope to use this opportunity to get useful, productive feedback that will help me in investigating all of my options.


Share some of the themes / values that inform your work and creative process? 

Three of the main themes that tie my work together are memory, organization, and memorialization. The values that inform my work are an extension of the values that inform my human existence. Honesty, integrity, compassion and courage are all values that I was raised with. I built a lengthy career in politics and public service based upon these values and I don't look at my career as an artist any differently. To have my work described as honest means everything to me. 


What are some of the ethical considerations / audience engagements or social impact goals that your work has or will be confronting?

I think that the main ethical consideration of my work lies in its very specific association with survivors of sudden, violent death. Not so long ago, I witnessed the sudden and violent death of a parent. My own experience makes me uniquely qualified to work with the grief-stricken, the frustrated, and the justifiably angry.  

As far as the ethics surrounding audience engagement is concerned, I'm currently learning as much about subject and practice. At this time, I don't think that I will have enough time to propose or even help to facilitate a community project here in my hometown of Trenton, NJ. Working with my own community is something that I very much look forward to doing sometime in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, I am committed to learning as much as I can so that I’ll be sure to do right by them.


How has your work evolved during your time so far at Moore?

Let me begin by saying that coming up with anything even remotely complimentary to say about myself or my work has never been my strong suit, and much of the past year feels like a blur. By the time we graduate next May, we will have the dubious distinction of being Moore’s first MFA cohort to begin and end our graduate studies during the COVID-19 pandemic. None of us will receive a prize for this.  

My work has evolved in ways that I can see, and in ways that others can see but that I don't immediately recognize. I know that my concepts are stronger now and that they are far more developed than they were one year ago. Sometimes, when I catch myself in a moment of effectively teasing one out, I’ll pause for a second as if to silently recognize my own progress. 

Organization has always been a big part of my work and, for that matter, my life. Over the past year I've watched myself become better at this. I feel encouraged to keep working in this manner. It's a space where I can feel satisfied with my own progress.  


If / how has this program affected your creative process or brought you to new places in your work?

This program has made me an all-around better thinker. I am a better and more effective problem solver. I am far less stubborn than I was last September. I am more patient and, dare I say, more kind. I don't take everything personally. This might seem like no big deal but I assure you that it is one, because it shows that I've evolved as a human being. Who I am and the way that I behave as a human being directly influences the art that I make and the way I relate to others.   

Regan McGrory's exhibition, which consists of an upside down American flag hung on the wall and a number of prayer candles displayed on the floor below it.