Bethany Engstrom is currently in her third year of the Intermedia MFA program and lives in Belfast. In her work, she explores everyday experiences and spaces and the way in which they are perceived by creating works that meld found and constructed objects with digital media. Her personal and educational background in Art History combined with a questioning of creativity in everyday life has led her work to take a range of forms including installation, video, and audio. Her current investigations lie in the spaces between philosophy, society, psychology, and pop culture among others.
A recent work of Bethany’s titled The Day I Spent on Ellis Island… is a consideration of a trip to New York in the spring which included a visit to Ellis Island. While there she was fortunate enough to participate in a tour of the areas of the Island that are not restored and are closed to the public. This space consisted mainly of the infectious disease wards where sick immigrants were sometimes quarantined having arrived on the island with symptoms of tuberculosis, measles, smallpox and other sicknesses. Within these areas were two morgues and an “autopsy theater” made up of a multiple level observation area. Needing to explore the space further by researching and investigating the spaces experienced, Bethany created a reference to the actual areas in Ellis Island but not a representation of them by exploring the effect of the interactions she and others had in the spaces. With this in mind, she created a hybrid of them and analyzed the uncomfortably strange effect they had in order to share this experience with those who encounter the work.