Collage of Christabel: Middlesex Occupational Therapist (finished)

Finally I have finished the collage here with the background completed and the candy foil earring (I saved foil from innumerable chocolates…and they have no come in handy as I know eventually they would.  What do they say? Everything can be an art supply, looked at with a creative spirit. Who says that? Well, I dunno, I guess I do! 8D

I call her Christabel, who was one of the occupational therapists in the hospital this past April and May (all of the OTs were great.) She was a wonderful woman who was the one person who consistently treated me like a human being at a place where I was often not treated much better than an animal or a bad child. Consequently, I never once, as I recall, had occasion nor impulse to scream at her in rage or frustration. Lkewise she never felt it incumbent upon her to withhold from me such ridiculous items as gluesticks or magazines, the sort of carrots with which the nurses attempted to “tame” me. That is, negatively, by taking them away from me until I ‘behaved’ according to their rigid standards. Never once did they acknowledge what I had begged them to understand from the moment I walked in there, which was that I suffered from Lyme disease-induced schizophrenia, and that both the rage episodes and my impulsivity were uncontrollable, (i.e. literally OUT of my control, and “not me” — as the weekend doc herself, Faye H., who knew me well from treating me for years in the past, noted several times in dismay).

Be that as it may, when the nurses, or one of them, the one who really hated me, refused to grant me permission to use a gluestick one afternoon in order to work on this collage, it was Christabel who came to my rescue, by bringing some from the OT office, without so much as a word or caveat to “not tell the nurses.” She simply handed them to me, along with a handful of new magazines to tear colored scraps from, so I could continue work on my face, which I had only just begun.

Everyone asked me, as it was coming together, if I was modeling it on  anyone. But the truth is, though I call it Christabel, it is more in honor of her, than intended to be a true likeness. True, she is African American, and has very close cropped hair, but that is as far as the similarities go. In fact, the face is pretty much imaginary and generic. I took the features from, well, my mind, mostly, though I used various faces from magzines to give me an idea of how the light would fall and create shadows, and how the various contours of the features would look. Also to give me a better idea of proportions. The nice thing about these kinds of collages is that paper is very forgiving, so if I made a huge mistake, and made the nose too big or put the lips too close to the nostrils or, as I did, make the eyes too small and close together, all I needed to do was paper them over and start again. In fact, the more layers I used, the stiffer the underlying “post-it note” kind of thin paper foundation became, which proved a good thing when it came to finishing off the edges and finding a way to hang it. I cannot f rame it, as it is 46 inches by 32inches, approximately, and formally framing it would cost a mint. but I polyurethaned it, one, so it would not distintegrate, and bound the edges neatly, and think I will attach a dowel or piece of thin wood at the top to which I can affix a wire and hang it by that. The person, the woman who runs the solo shows every month at DHMAS in Hartford, said that though everything was supposed to be framed, basically as long as it can be hung by a wire, my plans sound fine.

Well enough of this. I think the new photo shows how I finished the face better. Though I could not get the bound edges into the photo alas.

4 thoughts on “Collage of Christabel: Middlesex Occupational Therapist (finished)”

  1. Love this collage Pam..

    Although just a face depicted somehow you have conveyed marvelously a very strong honest and non judgemental stance of someone who seems to transmit positive energy and gift from her well placed feet upwards..Needed in troubled times for sure..when others don’t just get it.

    Best wishes Chris


  2. Dear Pam,

    It was with great relief I saw that you posted. Every couple of days I would visit your blog, hoping to hear from you, and fearing, as time passed, that you were in the hospital.

    If they try to argue that you must take Zyprexa , argue back by using the word “obesity”. You can tell them that this drug has proven with you to cause obesity. It is, a stark and unpleasant word. I am always startled when someone has the guts to call themselves obese. It means that they face reality square and fearlessly.

    When I went off Seroquil and started using Geodone in order to lose weight my creativity took a hit. My husband said that my paintings were not as creative anymore. I didn’t listen to him at first, but I am afraid that he is right. And I was definitely most creative and most happy while on Zyprexa. But of course, my appetite too was unlimited when I was on Zyprexa.

    I let my creativity loose something so that 1) I would stay out of the hospital and 2) I could lose weight and feel normal. I didn’t risk all to be creative.

    You may be facing some hard choices with your medication. I am always interested in your experience with medication, as it is usually I who tell my medication nurse what medication to put me on. Being in control, means that I have to be educated, and I learn a lot from anecdotal stories like your own. Please continue to detail your experience with these medications, I think it is important to include it with your blog topics.

    Thank you for simply being you Pam. You probably didn’t come into this world thinking “I am going to be courageous”, but when life presses against you, I think you press back with courage. You are one of my heroes.

    Take care of yourself,
    Karen Sorensen


  3. Dear Pam,

    I am so glad and relieved to hear from you again. I sent you an email 3-4 weeks ago, but never heard from you and I almost contacted your sister, but felt self-conscious about doing that since I don’t really know her. How are you? Your collage is fantastic. It has both the feel of a painting and a mosaic. I love the fact that you are a committed visual artist. I’m going to email you tonight. So glad that you are home again!

    Best Wishes Always,



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