Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ann Marshall (44)

-Maybe Baby-
Pastel and paper collage
on paper
44 x 60 3/4

Ann writes:

Within the last year, I was in a freak accident where a tree fell on me while I was walking on the sidewalk. It hit me from behind and broke several of my ribs, vertebra, and blew my hip out of its socket. I found out later when examining what remained of the clothes the paramedics had not cut off from my body, the soles had been blown off my new boots -- such was the force of impact. It was the most traumatic painful event I’ve ever experienced. I will spare you the details, but I’m lucky to be alive and still have the use of my legs.

While still in the hospital, I noticed a sign for art therapy on the wall in my room. Bored and looking for comfort, I asked what was available. The night nurse told me to inquire with the day shift, but instead I asked my boyfriend to pick up some Playdoh next time he went out to run errands. Curiously, I didn’t want to draw. I’m an artist by profession and sometimes the self-pressure to perform is too acute. I was a broken person now. I didn’t feel like trying and then being disappointed. Instead, I was looking to escape and forget. Before personal ambition set in, I had spent many fun afternoons as a child unselfconsciously playing with clay on our kitchen table, amused by my ability to bring even the crudest figurines into existence only to flatten them later with a rolling pin. That was the speed I was on now.

After my boyfriend returned, I spent the afternoon making silly sculptures in between naps (I was pretty heavy drugged) and lined up my creations on the tray beside my bed. I asked any visitors to bring clay in lieu of flowers and entertained everyone with my resulting creations. They made me happy in painful circumstances.

I soon went home but was highly incapacitated for a month. I was in a lot of pain. My greatest efforts went into physical recovery and the first very short exhausting walks gradually became longer. I was soon able to dress myself again--slowly, though for several weeks I had to use a grabbing device to reach anything on the floor. Eventually, my boyfriend no longer had to help me out of bed and I could shower by myself again. As I improved, I became bored with my confinement. Movies and television provided a glimpse into the outside world, but passively watching made me restless. I needed actual activities. I baked and cooked what I could. I hobbled down the block on crutches. I continued to play with clay. Surprisingly, the very crude sculptures brought me a happiness my professional work had been missing for some time. I posted them on Facebook in an album entitled “Percocet and Playdoh” and they were wildly popular with my friends and family. I made a mental note to myself.

Eventually, I healed enough and returned to the studio, I tried to remember to carry over the joy I had found in my small housebound projects into my real work. This was the constructive result of my accident, at least as pertains to art: have fun. You did once, and then all the adult pressures piled on. I try to appreciate and celebrate my subjects, and create work that brings pleasure to the viewer. Interest, joy, and excitement are contagious. I do not find them lesser goals.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Helene Ruiz (43)


-my resurrection-

-carry on-

Bread Crumbs
The piercing of
by lubricated oracles
in attempt
to condemn
has become
these crumbs
the bread of you
your bread
be these

Helene writes in her artist's statement:

Art is my passion, religion and salvation. It is my way of surviving and coping. I paint what I feel, when I feel, Although most of my works are considered “surreal” in style by many, my work is actually my “reality” and my perception and creative expression of my life and my interpretation of my environment and the lives of others around me. There is no “correct” way to conclude the meaning behind my work as it is meant to reach inside of you and for you to decide how it relates to your soul, your life, your experiences. I love to paint, I cannot imagine my life without it, nor do I think I would have survived without it. Drawing and Painting is my true “freedom” as I can say whatever I want without restriction, and every painting began with a drawing first. This is how I can express myself when words are at a loss. Sometimes, there are no words that can describe my reality. The stories behind my works are many, I would love to hear how my works may relate to your stories.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kathryn Ashill (42)

‘If it is a social object, the body can be redefined,
its forms and functions can be contested
and its place in culture
revaluated and transformed’. (1)
I personally identify with my body as a ‘social object’, which can be used as an instigative tool for social intervention. After having to revaluate my body as a result of significant weight loss I turned to performance as a means of reconnecting with my physicality. My work is focused on the desire to explore my surroundings and other people through making corporeal connections.

Having grown up in a typical Welsh household where there was a lack of filial tactility I crave physical affection. This feeds significantly into my work as I aim to gain a physical bond with the participants in the performances. There is a strong theme of care running through the body of work: I have been publicly dressed (Dress Doll 2006), publicly washed (Tawe Performances 2006-2008), and hand fed by my family (Feast/Gwledd 2008).

Intimacy is fostered through these actions. My latest piece Sws (Welsh for ‘kiss’) involved participants applying red lipstick and then coming to kiss me. I became shrine like and relished the physical contact. As a ‘social object’ my body can be used as a tool for pushing the reserved British public to embrace more often.

(1) R. Betterton, An Intimate Distance: Women, Artists and the Body (London, New York: Phaidon 1996) p.13
Photo credits to: Paul Avis, Daryl Corner, Rhiannon Guven and Michelle Huggleston.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jennie Rosenbaum (41)

-Crawl- 36x48 Acrylic, Pastel and Gesso on Canvas-

I understand the healing power of art, I have a chronic pain disability resulting from a car accident. Art has turned my life around, given me a career and a path forward. This piece is about my rediscovering myself, my love of art and my joy at finding what I was truly supposed to be doing with my life. It's also about the way art transports me when I paint. The pain drops away and I feel lighter, freer and ready to tackle the world once more.

-Expecting - Watercolors and Pencil on Paper-

I never realized the way pregnancy would redefine the way I treat my body. The care and love I felt for the tiny life growing inside me made me realize that I had to care for myself and treat myself better so that my baby would have the best chance. This has extended into motherhood. There is no bliss I've felt that compares to finding out I was pregnant, except the moment when she was placed on my chest after her birth. This piece is the beginning of this wondrous journey.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ella Nitters (40)

-Rags of my anatomy #2-

Ella writes:

I grew up having an extreme phobia for the inside of the human body, particularly the skeleton. I still don’t understand the origin of this phobia, but as a small child I realized at some point that my body too “contained” a skeleton, which resulted in many waves of fear during my childhood and even later in life. All I could do was wait until it was over, since I could not run away from it, like people normally tend to do when something terrifies them. Fortunately, human beings do have a weird way of “forgetting” their bodies in a normal state and it only comes into our consciousness on occasion, such as in the case of sickness. I did tend to forget my body in that sense for most of the time but it would come back to me often. I have grown over this fear, or at least to the point where it doesn’t paralyze me anymore and it has grown into a fascination too. What I want to investigate in my work is what we exist of, to get a grip on that weird “tissue” that we are. We don’t just have a body, we are a body.

I made this piece during my stay at the Vermont Studio Center in march 2010.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yoko Ono (39)

Yoko writes:

When I was a very young and a serious poet, I admired a drawing by Picasso, which was of a very, very skinny woman folding her body in a beautiful way as if to express her resignation to life. I thought I would like to be like her one day. I am not like that yet. But I don't mind that I will be if and when I do. What I want to say is that I am very happy with the changes my body had gone through up to now. And so I will be, as my body progressed into an age when I would look totally spiritual. Change is beautiful. Each year, I am thankful that I am making the change. Each year, I am looking more like the 100 year old trees I see in the park - quietly powerful - and loving life.