Austin, Texas-based artist Jill Bedgood talks about her most recent project, “Books of Hours: Interventions” which celebrates its debut exhibition at the Greiner Art Gallery in the Lynn Center for Fine Arts at Hanover College. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Austin, Texas-based artist Jill Bedgood talks about her most recent project, “Books of Hours: Interventions” which celebrates its debut exhibition at the Greiner Art Gallery in the Lynn Center for Fine Arts at Hanover College. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
A Texas artist always tries to make a statement with her work - usually social or political - yet her latest exhibition also serves as a personal memorial to her sister.

Jill Bedgood created a collection of 25 items she saw nearly every day while serving as a caretaker for her sister, Pat, who underwent treatments for cancer.Pat served as the inspiration behind the project that recently debuted at Hanover College. To create the exhibition, Bedgood used items that were important to her and her sister during her sister's fight for life.

Bedgood began the project after her sister lost her battle with the disease to create lasting memories of items that brought joy during her sister's last months and show the lengths her sister went through to live.

"For me, it was an emotional piece," Bedgood said.

Each of the 25 items represent memories, she said. Her collection includes needles, an IV regulator, a swab and medications.

"You need these drastic measures to survive cancer," she said of the "intervention" items.

Other items in her collection include a religious medallion and key - things that gave Bedgood and her sister comfort.

"It was really hard to get rolling," she said of her work. "It's difficult, but it's also healing."

Bedgood had always been fascinated with Books of Hours - small books that noted historical events - and expanded the idea to create her collection of pieces titled, "Books of Hours: Interventions."

The small Book of Hours became popular in England around the Middle Ages and showcased historical milestones for the wealthy. Some of the books included words along with the art, while other books were without the colorful depictions, she said. The books could be used as a prayer book for the religious or just as a seasonal calendar that foreshadowed other art movements.

"There's a lot of history in Books of Hours," Bedgood said.

Like the Books of Hours used throughout history, the "books" in Bedgood's display provokes memories for her and honors a specific time period.

Bedgood's Books of Hours also serve as a "memento mori," or a reminder of human mortality, she said. While "memento mori" works usually feature skulls, decaying flowers or other items that signify death, Bedgood's display features the items used that represent the lengths someone goes through to escape mortality.

Her past works focus on human nature, she said. But she usually creates her art with a molding process that can be used over and over again instead of creating just a single cast of an item as she did with her latest exhibition.

"I'm really into process art," she said. "I allow for things to happen."

While her usual style is to work with forms to create her art, she also enjoys exploring other art forms.

"If I like it, I keep it," she said of her work. "If I don't, I throw it away."

In addition to creating her works that have been displayed throughout the world, including cities in Italy and Greece, Bedgood also teaches others ways to express themselves through artistic works.

"I like how (students) interpret," she said. "You have an expectation, but you're always surprised."

Teaching art also allows Bedgood to keep up with changes and keep her work from looking dated.

"Art changes so much, it helps you not to get in a rut," Bedgood said. "It's always making me think of other things."

While the art exhibition at Hanover College is the first public display for Bedgood's "Book of Hours: Interventions," she already has another exhibition of her collection scheduled in San Antonio later this year. While her sister's family won't be able to attend the display at Hanover, they will get a chance to see the display in Texas. She hopes the items in her collection will help her sister's family remember the good memories during a difficult time.

"Everybody's got stuff," she said. "It's about those things we draw comfort in."