Seeking to understand the historical origin of her own experience of trauma influences the concerns of Cornelia van Voorst’s art practice. Her ancestral roots are located in Germany during the difficult years of the Weimar Republic and the Second World War, yet she avoids obvious cultural references and dependence on popular narrative in order to speak to the universal suffering of war. Referencing lesser known wartime stories, her work on paper represents a fragile empathetic conjunction of the personal with the historical, conveying complex feelings and ideas about war, good and evil, loss and hope, of grief to healing. Reflecting recent understanding about generational trauma and the need to integrate unspoken pain with lived experience, van Voorst’s art bears witness to an overlooked past and its resonance with the present.
Cornelia van Voorst’s fine art studies were interrupted by debilitating symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a complex form of PTSD. Her art practice emerged after a long period of recovery, and she has since been able to support her practice with study while respecting the limits of her disability.