Flying Goose, Eye in Eggshell, Blue-spotted Frog, and Face/Eye Abstract
All of these “trading cards”, 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Many were done at Natchaug Hospital and are original one of a kind art. They are for sale. Tell me which one(s) you would like. We can work it out. (Payment is always in art supplies equivalences, by the way. No “cash” or other monetary payments accepted.)
Purple Cone flowers, Best in Show, No Exit from the Bin, and Mighty Manfred Makes an Entrance
Biohard Balloons; Blue Flipflops; cartoon nude; vivid abstract
Blue cup and Saucer; Man in Flower; Woman in ruffles with earrings
As may be obvious from the brown paper at the sides, this collage is very much unfinished, both as to content and as to medium. What I mean is, this is a kind of painting with paper, so I am so far dissatisfied with, say, the blue curtain with yellow lining, because it still looks rough and is not clearly a curtain blowing in the air coming through the open window. Ditto, the open window, which is not clearly even a window, except by virtue of my titling it such. But when I finish with it, I hope all these mysteries will be clearer, including the surreal placement of a hand mirror outside an upper story window! (I said it was surreal, didn’t I?) But what I cannot help is whether or not the viewer recognizes what it is that is on the bed. Some people simply do not know what restraints look like, and have variously interpreted them as guitars or snakes or what have you. To me, it is obvious. But I guess most people have not been in such a situation, and have no conception of what they might be looking at. Perhaps a more suggestive title would help?
Another important feature of the “painting” is the frosted glass window, with the mysterious something going on behind it, again left up to the interpretation of the viewer. If you understand that this is a restraints bed, and that the window is open…what could be going on outside the seclusion room? And why is the window open? Should the bed be empty? If you could see this very large collage – 5 feet by 5 feet — up close, you would see that the mirror overhangs a very detailed garden, with all the trappings of well designed backyard floribundance, so to speak. There is a little table and benches and other accoutrements, but also a path leading up to — a garden gate, which opens onto a field and freedom.
As I worked on this collage, I was in a state of acute anxiety — with tremors and shaking and palpitations I did not understand. And every night I would weep with bodily but not conscious memories of the recent brutalities I experienced at Manchester and Middlesex Hospitals. At Natchaug they understood how degrading and traumatizing such treatment had been, and indeed how re-traumatizing. Because indeed, I had already been traumatized many times before in the 80s and 90s and early to mid 2000’s by what I thought was SOP use of such measures. Instead, when those recent hospitals used them, cruelly and inappropriately, at a time when I knew their use was frowned upon and had been severely curtailed, it not only re-awakened the original trauma, but in a very real sense put me in emotional touch with it, the pain, the terror, the horrendous humiliation for the very first time.
I am not by any means over it. As I work on my memoir sequel, BLACKLIGHT, I am also slowly going over my hospital records with Dr Angela, aka Dr C, and it is a gut-wrenching task that leaves me drained and tremulous. But if it succeeds in returning my memories to me, all of them, I shall consider it worthwhile.
I wanted to write a bit about the artworks that I posted yesterday without any explanation. The first one was the only one I planned in any sense of the word, and even then I cannot say I really knew what I was going to do when I started it. My process in these drawings is to simply start with an image, say, in the first one, I started by drawing an eye, and then to see where my subconscious takes me. Once I have established enough images – just a few usually — that are coherently related to one another on the paper (or not) then I look to see what is in the “negative” spaces, which fill up with images too. You can see this most clearly in the middle and third works. I know how the pictures were made, since I drew them, but in looking at them objectively now, I can see that an observer might not see anything conspicuously “unintended.” And of course, what does “unintended” mean when it comes to the subconscious?
But in the picture I will post below, this “technique” if you will, predominates. (You either like it or you hate it) I hesitate to call it a technique because that sounds like something consciously adopted, where I feel it simply reflects an unconscious change, something that happened co-incidental with Joe’s final days and then took on a life of its own after the trauma of his death. But let me post the picture I am talking about, the one that I started on the very day they took him off the ventilator, and then I will continue.
All I can say about this is that a person here is cutting the cord that is connected to a heart and a pot and is not plugged in…and the person with the scissors is a little excited by this in a way that implies pleasure…I am saying no more, except to reiterate that I drew it, or started it the day Joe died or more accurately was killed.
After that, I started doing more and more “honest” pictures, pictures where I did not try to please anyone, but was simply drawing and painting what I felt like. The next one after this one was the Beauty SLeeping with Bugs one, which was in the post yesterday. And then the self-portrait series, which began with the earlier Dead Meat one, Goon Squad: First Responders. In that notebook, I endeavor to draw only “self-portraits” though not likenesses. I am not sure what to call them, conceptual self-portraits perhaps? The second one is a very loosely drawn portrait of me as an animal, done in a different sketchy style (I haven’t photographed it or I would post it.) The third is Pam as Ornament, which I will post below, and once again I had nothing in mind when I started it, except the concept. The Santas came out of nowhere, esp the one that is only a head on a tray!
I guess I have nothing more to add for now.
I have been working on my memoir, which I have tentatively titled “BlackLight: a Memoir of Madness and One Woman’s Struggle for Recovery” — so far after only about 5 days work I have 27 pages done (more, really, just not organized and polished). Would be happy to hear any comments or suggestions for a better title (which I believe is a request I have made previously).