Reflection on Room 101 in Ward D

Here is the sign I posted above the collage as it was finally presented today at Artspace:





Collage, available as is or finished with bound edges



I started this collage at Natchaug Hospital in Willimantic, using scraps torn from magazines and glued onto a large sheet of brown paper. This was my effort to deal with the emotional trauma associated with other hospitals where I had been far too frequently shackled in four-point restraints. Although I have tried to depict a seclusion room realistically, I have also taken some artistic license: in a real such situation, the restraint bed would be facing the door, so that an aide or nurse monitoring the patient would be able to see his or her face clearly. And here, of course, the window is neither heavily grated nor closed. Instead, it has been opened (how? by whom?) and we see a winding path that leads far away…

*In George Orwell’s book 1984, Room 101 in the Ministry of Love is where recalcitrant prisoners are tortured, the instrument being whatever it is they are most afraid of.

mirror view into a seclusion room with a restraints bed.

You  really need to stand back from it to get the full effect, but this wasn’t possible, despite my wall being on a T intersection of hallways as someone had planted a bright torchiere lamp down the perpendicular hall. This was helpful for other displays but unfortunatley caught the light in such a way as to cause my collage to reflect it, leading to glare and poor visibility of necessary features. Ah well, live and learn, live and learn. Had I known this would happen, I would not have used a gloss finish on the mirror section, even though I wanted to in order to make it look “mirrory” compared to the non-mirrored “flat” or matte parts…

I have a few other things to say about my experience at the OpenStudio show and sale today — I was quite uncomfortable despite appearances. Or at least I think I presented a comfortable and at ease appearance. But in point of fact there were three or four women in my hallway who were talking about me and who did not want me there. I think the woman who was almost directly across from me, except for the space where the T opened up to the other perpendicular hall, was particularly upset with me and trying to marshall support from others against me. I don’t know what I did to bother her, but she clearly had conceived an antipathy to me. She was the one I believe who won the award at the group show. I thought her paintings, decent, glowing and colorful, and skilled to a nice degree, though not all that creative to my eye. Highly colored oil paintings, likeable but somehow a bit lifeless I cannot quite say why because everyone else seemed very impressed.

Be that as it may, I do not trust her and frankly I believe she is likely bad-mouthing me as I write this. I had the distinct impression that she was enlisting support from those others to get rid of me at the exhibit, and even harm me in some fashion. Every time I left for one reason or another, or walked down that hall to get to the stairs, I felt watched and heard them whispering. Damn her and damn them. I could have had a reasonably okay time, had they not taken to tormenting me…though in point of fact, had not a few visitors talked to me a bit, I would have sat in silence all day long, except for when my family came. No other neighboring artist spoke to me all the day and no one even so much as introduced themselves. If anyone did anything — conversed with me, introduced themselves, started a conversation, it was I who had to do it, and then it seemed as if they responded only reluctantly.

However, I should cease and desist at this for now as I left out my “business” cards, and so I guess any artist there could have, though I doubt it, picked one up and could now be “listening in.”

In any event, I am doing a little drawing at the moment, small cards, “trading card-size” drawings. Dunno if I will give those away, trade them, or not. But it is fun to work on such a small scale nonetheless.

The only thing I would give away free this time for sure, though I have given and donated a lot previously, is Christabel, the portrait collage. If the real Christabel came along and introduced herself (with proof that she is who she is, because my amnesia for that hospital stay is such that despite my remembering her kindness I do not actually remember her face or anything else about her) if she came to see the show and saw her portrait finished, I would happily give her the collage wall-hanging for free. So Christabel, that is my offer. (I won’t know you, but if you remember me and come to the show, find me and find your portrait.)

Enough for now. Just wanted to let my readers see the final “product” in case it sells. Fat chance of that though. It looks as if I will be going home with literally everything I brung with me…Well, it is a learning experience. And it has been that to the max.