My work explores familial connections, memory, and loss closely associated with my maternal grandparents, whom I never met. My perception of them is somewhat mythical, especially since I have had to piece together who they were through secondhand information, rather than my own impression of them. As I work, I constantly question my family about them, as I like to hear how their stories change with each retelling and how easily memory can fail them.
Many of my lithographs obscure my grandparent’s faces and abstract other details of their identity, instead placing focus on the clothing they were wearing or the settings they occupied. In doing so, my pieces become both fact and fiction, merging a real person with my idea of who they could’ve been. I often feel uneasy imagining that my grandparents, who are a part of me, could be so easily forgotten as my family members’ memories of them start to fade. By printing and multiplying their image, I can create a visual reminder that they did exist and cement them in time.
Brenna Houdersheldt is originally from Shelby, Nebraska, and will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Printmaking from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (May 2023). Her work has been displayed at the Eisentrager–Howard Gallery’s 33rd, 34th, and 36th Annual Juried Undergraduate Exhibitions (2020, 2021, 2023) and published in The Nicollective’s group zine Milk 004: New Direction (2021). During her time at the University, she was named a Chancellor’s Scholar and received the Elgas Project Grant, Jeanne Trabold Scholarship, Peter & Inge Worth Scholarship, Hixson–Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Scholarship, and David Distinguished Scholarship. Houdersheldt has also served as a Collections Research Intern at the Sheldon Museum of Art as well as a Collections Intern at the International Quilt Museum.