Final Studies: Brian Tom

Akron Art Museum
3 min readJul 8, 2020


Undergraduate Student, Oberlin College

Visual Art and Psychology

Title of Exhibition: The Rest In Pieces

All You Have is Your Name

Death is inherently funny. It is not humorous like a joke, but the ways in which we express our feelings of death and the process of grieving are ironic. When we experience an irreversible loss, we grieve by constructing a “permanent” monument to represent and honor the dead. This comfort in the permanence, some form of legacy, is what drives the appeal of a tombstone or a donation in the name of the deceased. Thus, there is simultaneously a fear and a desire derived from this idea of the irreversible.

Left: Why So Blue? Right: These Are For You

In thinking about the passing of those close to me, I have been reflecting about the reality and consequences of this irony. It is true that a tombstone may last hundreds of years, but what is its value when those who knew the person no longer exist?

This same tension is hidden within the opposite event; our understanding of birth and childhood. The development of children within the first few years of life is outstanding, yet in our minds we imagine our youth as a fixed moment in time. We often keep these memories as if they were frozen in a glass case and forget about our rapid period of change. Once again, even in the beginning of our lives we find comfort in the illusion of a permanence.

Left: And Many More. Middle: Tadp(old). Right: Bless You.

My sculptures challenge these notions of artificial permanence through the humor created by the contrast between formulaic gestures in a recontextualized setting. Yet, as I have gotten older, my own personal views and conversations around these subjects have changed and as a result, my artwork has acted as my diary for each stage of my life. In a way, these sculptures, a physical reminder of my past thoughts and actions, are my own fleeting attempt to create permanence by documenting the ephemeral.

For more of Brian’s work:
Instagram: @plan_brian

Final Studies are in partnership with The University of Akron and are made possible with support from Fifth Third Bank and the Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation.



Akron Art Museum

Enriching lives through modern and contemporary art