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Installation designed and installed in Logan Square neighborhood home in Chicago, IL

Do we have to master self-awareness before we can show empathy? Is empathy even learned? Can too much self- awareness be a bad thing? Do we teach our children to care more about others, before we teach them how to love themselves? The Rouge test, performed by psychologists, is meant to measure self-recognition in very young children. A red dot is placed on the child’s nose and the child is placed in front of a mirror to determine if he recognizes himself in the reflection.


This installation piece was inspired by the concept of the Rouge Test. Self recognition. The truth that having compassion and empathy for someone else is most healthy when we also offer it to ourselves. That we can look in the mirror and recognize the things that make us unique and good, or we can focus on a distorted view that will ultimately cause pain to ourselves and others.


A beautiful and brave family member of mine was suffering from extreme depression when I began making noses. It was a way to satisfy the need to keep my hands busy while my heart was breaking. A reminder to try to realize the good in our own reflections. That Spring, I created an installation of over 2000 ceramic noses.


In bringing this work to the public, I have learned a lot about people. Although noses are the center, and often times defining characteristic of our face, when placed on the wall in mass, at varied sizes and depths, our mind’s eye struggles to fill in the blank about what they are. The obvious is not always easily recognized, as is true of our own reflection at various points in our lives. 

Installation designed and installed in the home of a client in Denver, CO

Small Installation for client’s home in Orlando, Fla.

Design and installed in a home in Lake Forest, IL

Designed and Installed in West Town neighborhood in Chicago, IL

©2019 Jenifer Thoem