Phoenix artist Jen Urso channels pandemic grief into art

By Steve Goldstein
Published: Friday, August 26, 2022 - 10:27am
Updated: Friday, August 26, 2022 - 10:37am

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Jen Urso
Jen Urso.

Many artists have taken some kind of inspiration from the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that manifests itself in ways that are subtle, dramatic, uplifting or grief-inducing.

Last year on The Show, we introduced you to Jen Urso. As so many people were experiencing the deaths of friends and relatives from COVID-19, she was having to deal with her last days with her beloved sister, who was dying of cancer.

Those experiences led her to create "Remarkable Presence," a project that combines obituaries with pop-up paper suitcases. The work is now on display at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, where The Show recently met with Urso.

Urso talked about the nature of grief and whether it’s possible to suppress those feelings — even when something as dramatic as an extended illness or a worldwide pandemic is taking place.

Jen Urso, Remarkable Presence
Western Spirit
Jen Urso, “Remarkable Presence,” 2021, a multimedia installation of 20,000 printed and die-cut recycled paper, 45 pop-up suitcases made of inkjet print on index cards, glue, marker and repurposed household shelves.

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