Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Judith Peck (38)


Judith writes:

I have always been a student of history because I was seeking an explanation for the injustices I saw. I grew up wanting to try to understand how it can be changed. Now I try to paint it, so everyone might see our connectivity. I had no intention of getting married or having children, but it happened. This painting, Complications, is about the decision to bring a baby into the world in spite of what I know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Toyah Blackburn (37)

-Self-Portrait (Acceptance)-

Toyah writes:

I am a disabled female artist. I was born with spina bifida and subsequently use a wheelchair. The image is a self-portrait I did a few months ago: the scar has been on my back since birth. I wanted to document this, and celebrate my acceptance of the way my body looks. My plan is to do more painting and sculpture in the future about disability ...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mary Bogdan (36)

-Love [ME] Tender-

 love [me] tender, a film by mary bogdan

Mary writes:

This series of intimate self-portraits has been a long time coming... it was my sister who was the "pretty one"... the "thin one"... the "smart one"... I grew up in her shadow... I was her little sister... never quite matching up to her, never able to be mom's "favorite"... These are painful thoughts, years of feeling self-loathing... today I took these photos of myself with love and forgiveness, and thoughts of "I am beautiful"... chubby, but beautiful...

My mother's heritage to me was her sense of herself as a "fat person"... not quite worthy of beauty and maybe this is why she admired and "loved" my sister more, for she was the "beautiful one".... Maybe I was too much a mirror to her.

Feeling deep pains as I write this... but today is the day I fight back and say to my mother "It's OK to be fat"... It's beautiful if you feel beautiful inside, if you are loved deeply by a wonderful man, and if you love yourself enough to forgive yourself for being "fat"....

I think these photos of myself are full of love and beauty... that's how I feel about [ME].... today....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Liv Sørvaag (35)

Liv writes:

Since 1994 I have got CFS/me, that has taken control over my body ... It's an illness that affects the whole body. I'm so happy that I'm able to work with art, as it really gives me strength and joy! ... I love doing all kinds of art ...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stephanie Kolpy (34)

-She Is Gone-

Stephanie writes:

My mother died last august from breast cancer. Here is her memorial piece called "She Is Gone" It is oil and gold leaf on panel the eighteen natural pigments in jars in reliquary. The reliquary and the crown are a symbol of her accomplishments here on earth - transforming her into a saint. The elephant is the most matriarchal of animals and the vultures represent cancer and all the things that force us into this life cycle- we come from the earth and return to the earth. Notice how the colored pigments are creating the landscape, the color pigments represent her soul.

Stephanie Kolpy
Mythos for the Mortal

Louise Millmann (33)

Louise writes:

Within 1 month of my 45th birthday
my eyes started to fail me.
Now I must wear glasses
everyday, all day
and sometimes I can't see clearly.
I feel like I am seeing myself
through film grain ........
I don't know what I am supposed to
look like anymore. The mirror
is fooling with me.

Nadine Bouler (32)



Nadine writes:

Swimming through life
Each stroke amazes me
I am more than my body
I am a contradiction
Words and images
Fastidious and rebellious
Love and loss


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holly Armishaw (31)

-Fading Away-


-The Death of Self-

-The Migraine-

-Symptom Six-


-Lucid Dreaming 2-

-The Panic Attack-


La Femme Tragique
By Holly Armishaw

At three A.M. I awoke suddenly one night, I had the most excruciating chest pain. My chest was so tight that I felt that if I took a deep breath, something in my heart would pop or a rib would crack. I became aware of an intense pain in my arm and slowly I lost feeling in my legs and fingers. My breathing was shallow and my lips grew numb. I felt that I was beginning to lose consciousness. I grabbed for the phone and minutes later I was in the hospital emergency room. They performed an ECG and asked a lot of questions and came to the conclusion that my heart was fine – I had suffered an intense panic attack. This was just to be the first of many.
Indeed there were issues in my life, my relationship, my job, illness in friends and family, but I thought I was holding everything together fine. However, the body has different ideas about how it can handle stress. Emotional sickness is like water – if you block one path, it will find another channel to travel through. I began having migraines and panic attacks so severe that they have landed me in the hospital ER three times. These conditions and symptoms became so debilitating that I could no longer carry out my managerial responsibilities at work. This was a blessing in disguise; I had to quit my job and at last I was free to be an artist again.
I desperately needed that time off and my body made it possible. I spent the next 6 months attempting to self-medicate, sleeping through the days, generally living a lifestyle of risk-taking , escapism and indulgence. Thoughts of suicide were common and painful, while sleep, my only refuge. Spells of debilitating migraines, chest pain, fainting, numbness, tingling, nausea, feelings of floating and leaving my body have been something that I attempt to hide or ignore, until my body gives out and I end up in an ambulance on the way to the ER again. Rather than continuing to cure the symptoms as my doctors have been doing, I have taken it upon myself to cure the causes. The first step is an act of defiance against my family values. Rather than sweep things under the carpet my first act is the disclosure with this body of work. “The suffering artist” is a timeless icon of beauty and tragedy in art history and film, poetry, etc. and it is, unfortunately, alive and real. Mood disorders are an area that affects many of us in the fine arts, and are hence, important for discussion.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Branka Djordjević (30)

-self portrait : (extra)ordinary numbers-

Branka Djordjević

CaroH (29)

-self-portrait: fear-

CaroH writes:

I have used a red veil as a symbol of my suffering and also to hide that body that I was disliking and protect myself I guess. At the time when I shot this I was suffering emotionally. I had enough of the way I was living my life and needed to come out of the closet and confront my fear of becoming who I wanted to be, a fine art photographer. The best way for me to break the ice was to put myself naked with the veil and look at me as I was in the mirror, and that is what I did, all these shots ( first part of my self-portrait) were shot with the camera looking at my reflection in that mirror.

If you notice I don’t, on most of the photo, look in the mirror, it was at that time really difficult for me to do. My face is hidden with my shoulder, and the veil is reaching my face, I am looking down. I am afraid and I am cold. Will I be able to become CaroH and be that women that I know I am. By not looking in the mirror and by hiding my face, I am trying to hide my suffering, and who I was, that women who had enough of who she was. This shooting did me really good, it took me 3 months before I could even work on the photo, I needed to really disconnect from who I had been and dare to be CaroH. And I finally dare. All the way, I don’t regret a single minute of it.

I can tell that sometime it takes pain to grow and to understand the message life is sending. I think I am now starting to understand this message!

But CaroH still has a long path to climb before she becomes and feels that she is really CaroH.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joyce Polance (27)

84x68 inches.

Joyce writes:

'Albatross' is about anorexia - both as a physical and emotional state. The painting depicts 2 women, one carrying the other on her back. The healthy figure on the bottom is healing and strong, yet she still has the feelings and memories of what she has been through. She carries them with her.

Sarah Dees (26)

-Cancer Woman-
Acrylic on Canvas, 38 x 46 inches.

-Hope Shining Through-
Acrylic on canvas, 18 by 24 inches.

-Breath of Life-
Acrylic on canvas, 18 by 24 inches.

Sara writes:

This painting Cancer Woman was made while I was going through cancer treatment for colorectal cancer and I didn't yet know if I would survive. I painted it to show at the annual Cancer Survivor's Celebration and after the event I donated it to the Gulfcoast Oncological Foundation in thanks for a grant they gave me to help pay my mortgage for a few months while I was in treatment. It now hangs in the Oncology Ward of St. Anthony's hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida and I hear the staff and patients really love it.

It's is very symbolic and it was difficult to do, and I could never have created it if I had not experienced the reality of cancer treatment. I wanted to show beauty, strength and resilience, while also showing pain, suffering and emotional trauma. The rich colors are meant to symbolize pain, and the flowers are cancer tumors. She is "everywoman" going through cancer. Her hair is falling out and her breast is missing because of breast cancer. She has a port in her chest like I did, and the cactus flowers show the burns like I had from radiation. She is suffering, but she is still beautiful, facing forward, with hope, a survivor. I mean for her to show the hurt she feels, yet still inspire. I used my own body for the model but my daughter posed for the face. It's kind of abstract, in a way.

For a long time I was ashamed of my cancer and wouldn't tell anyone and took great care to cover up my port and then my scar. I didn't want to talk about it. At this point, I am finally okay with the experience and proudly showing my scar as my badge of courage, my survival. Now that I am 3 years past treatment I am ready to make a new painting, and planning on entering it in the Lilly Oncology on Canvas exhibition, to show what I feel like now, a little farther down the road as a cancer survivor. I feel that the journey is continuing and my perspective keeps changing and evolving. It is not over, and although I am "cancer free", I still deal with side effects of cancer treatments daily, my body is damaged, and I am a long way from what you could consider recovery. After the initial euphoria of survival passed, I sank into the long hard road of surviving survival, which is another chapter in the story. I'll send the new painting when it comes.

They came November 15th, 2010:

About Hope Shining Through & Breath of Life:

What I like about the paintings is the progression of time, the idea that things get better, and there is survival possible, of the body, mind, heart and spirit.

Sara Dees Art on OncoLink
Sara Dees has a fb-page 'Cancer-Financial Assistance, Resources, Scholarships, Info'