Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
This is the fourth Artist Spotlight that will feature artists participating in the Invisible:VisAble exhibition. Every couple of weeks I will introduce you to one of the participants, give a little information about them, and include some insights they provide me with about their art, challenge(s), what they are working on...I have left it up to the artists what they would like to include! Please do leave comments; we would love to hear what you have to offer! Leah Owenby was really the impetus behind this project. I met her early last year and was blown away by the art she had constructed using her used diabetes test strips and needles. Her lively, engaging personality put a positive perspective in a negative and matched the way I had lived my life, never using my challenge of deafness as an excuse for not living fully. I will let her tell the story!
"This January marked the 17th year since my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. I think back on the thousands of injections of insulin and glucose tests I’ve done since then and the numbers are dizzying. The numbers and repetition involved in successfully managing this disease are mostly what fascinate me and come through in my art.
I check my blood sugar between 4 and 7 times a day. At least every time I eat, but often before and after exercise, before driving if it feels funny, and before bed. Each reading has a pretty immediate impact on my mood, and sometimes my outlook in general. Often, I can feel whether it’s low or high. It’s usually high if I’m stressed or sick or it’s the holidays. That’s the time of year when everyone hands you boxes of truffles and fudge, and get upset if you try to refuse. Being raised a polite Southerner, I always take their gifts, appreciate the spirit in which they are given, and immediately hand them off to someone else with a working pancreas. Sometimes I slip, but it’s usually not worth how crappy I feel afterwards. It’s hard because stress, lack of sleep, and rich food always elevate blood sugars, and elevated blood sugars tend to lead to stress, lack of sleep, and the craving for rich food. When my blood sugars are high, I feel sleepy and snappy. When they’re low, I feel weak, nervous, and sweaty. I started taking “selfies” of my readings, and am thinking of making a short film or something with them. I think my fascination with repetition definitely comes thru in these…
The glittery, colorful, wrappers of the holidays got me thinking about the double-edged sword of candy in my life, too. You always hear about diabetics carrying candy around in case their blood sugar drops, but you also hear about how beneficial less sugar/low-carb diets are. I can’t make a habit of eating candy, because it could kill me slowly, but it’s a literal lifesaver if my blood sugar drops. This somehow led me to the imagery of El Dia de los Muertos. Those spooky little sugar skulls, the colors, the death… I like it. So I’m toying with two ideas- a “dia de los diabeticos” altar of sorts, and insulin-bottle birds with candy wrapper wings. We’ll see what comes of it.
It’s a little surreal to be in a show like this, for a long time I didn’t make any art about diabetes. I spent a long time being angry and isolated about it. I think it needed time to incubate because I needed to make enough emotional peace about it that I could be objective about the art part. I’m glad I finally did, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be in this exhibition!"
I appreciated reading about your experiences and insight into your work.In particular, I like the 2nd image the best.
Can you add titles and material descriptions to the photos...or a "Key" at the bottom of the post. It would help me "read" the photos.
Thank you for sharing.
Harriete- thanks so much for following the profiles! I am working on getting info from the artists to post with the photos. Stay tuned! We appreciate your support.