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.

5 thoughts on “Reflection on Room 101 in Ward D”

  1. Well, I love your piece! It occurred to me that perhaps the other artists were a bit envious of the depth in your work. Or maybe, what it reflects. Maybe nice pretty colors is what they wanted to see and/or portray, but I don’t know. Just wondering and supposing. Still, the collage is awesome, and one day, the right person will see it and buy it.

    I have an artist friend from TX who says she adores drawing/sketching on postcard size paper. She also said the small sizes are easy to sell. I hope you continue to enjoy that.

    I’ve had so much on my mind lately, that it’s keeping me preoccupied. I have to write a brief summary of my son’s health history for someone he’s working with in a recovery program, & supposed to have it ready by tomorrow. I get emotional thinking back on it all. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to keep up with communications, but I sure hope to soon.

    Please take care and keep on with your art, no matter what! You are very talented.

    Warmly, with big encouraging hugs!,


  2. You deserve a huge round of applause for the wonderful art and all the effort you put into this exhibition. Reading your comments about what others were saying about you makes me wonder, though, if the uncomfortable feelings you were experiencing was stress-related and not related to what other people were actually saying about you, or if they were even being critical. You have put an awful lot of hard work into producing the art work and setting up the show. Much of the subject matter of your art revolves around your recent hospitalization, which was understandably traumatizing. The show, perhaps, re-traumatized you and made you acutely sensitive to your own feelings which can get projected onto others. Intervoice, the international on-line community for voice hearers has recently developed a U.S. presence and is based on the pioneering work of Dutch psychiatrist Dr. Marius Romme. They say it’s not the voices, it’s the relationship one has with the voices that makes a difference. I apologize if this seems presumptuous and if I’m telling you what you already know.


  3. I tried to leave a reply as your work intrigued me
    despite your perceptions of those around you, as a former art therapist, I could not but note your works! I am on only soc.sec. now so can’t afford but your card I bought, Klimt like –


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