Natalie Peterson

Artist Statement

Nat Peterson’s practice works with both the memory of trauma embedded in her mind, body, and childhood environment, and the meticulous and time-consuming process of grief. The conscious choice to recount memories is done not simply to reclaim difficult stories from her past, but to communicate to others who may or may not relate personally to the subject matter. In reconstructing and revisiting embodiments of memory, she shifts in stages between performance, video documentation, photography, drawing, and installation to rupture the structure of the original event through recreation, in turn disrupting images of her body in pain. 

Rebuilding the shower room from childhood memory is an initial attempt to complete the mental image tile by tile. But as the memory fragmentation and loss that often follows abuse became apparent over the course of this project, Peterson had a reactive impulse to document her body in a performative display of internalized discomfort, shame, confusion, and desperation–an attempt to fill in the blanks within her control. A self-protective impulse resulted in an intervention that would disrupt the image of her body in pain, to reshift the focus from the person in untransmittable pain to the space itself, which absorbs and retains the impact of the original abuse. What remains is a disarray in the room that refocuses attention from the observation of the body to the process of foraging through the remnants of action and disorder in a space.

It is this transformative journey that allows her to revere the body by documenting the incarnation of past selves to confront the severity of child abuse and to grieve history through process-based methods. It also permits her to share this moment of lived experience in a world where some people have endured (or do, or will endure) instances of trauma, or even worse, routine abuse. Creating and transforming these physical embodiments demonstrates to many that they are not isolated in their pain and grief, and to others how commonplace trauma is within the childhood home.

Artist Bio

Nat Peterson is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in suburban New Jersey, where she first completed an associate’s degree at Brookdale Community College (2017). Peterson graduated from Pratt Institute (2020) with a concentration in drawing, and she is currently an MFA candidate at Parsons The New School for Design (2023). Peterson recently participated in her first international residency at Association CourCommune (2022), and has shown work in New York, New Jersey, Scotland, and France.