This is the third 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! 

I met Michelle when she took an Artistic Genealogy workshop from me a couple of years ago. We have stayed in touch and I believe that the valuable insights she unearthed while taking the workshop have benefitted her progress through a difficult, daily challenge. Her art work continues to progress and is helping her to deal, and hopefully, heal. I'll let her talk about her challenge! 

"The creative process for making pieces for Invisible:VisAble was a slow start at first, because I wasn’t sure how I was “disabled” by my disordered eating. Yet, as I continued to sketch in my visual journal, it became clear that there was anger. Anger at being frustrated. Frustrated by making mistakes. Mistakenly judging that as unworthiness. I was writing (or drawing) myself off as being damaged. And that had me angry again, so the cycle continued. Being unbalanced does not equate damage. It means that I have to be more mindful than I normally allow myself. And when I don’t remember to allow myself, I fall off kilter 

easily.

So once I realized this, the creative process was flowing. I decided to make some of my journal sketches into thread sketches. But everything seemed so unsophisticated; I really wanted to make sophisticated art. My inner child kept shouting out stories and phrases, so as I included them into my drawings, I noticed that this book was cumulating into a fabric “sketchbook.” And yet, that story wasn’t quite ready to be written because I never could come to finishing it!  Instead I noticed that most of the drawings had these serpent arms in some way or another. I decided to follow this instinct with the notion that, my gift is a curse; my curses are my gifts. It’s a double edged sword of being “burdened” as an artist. This beautiful gift can be a curse – but being an artist is who I am. Sometimes I wear it proudly, and sometimes I feel shackled to chains. What I have seen through this entire process, however, is the face of my bulimia. It’s me, it’s my way of trying to control everything. The arms have been seen throwing bombs bigger than airplanes; they are often at my back. And then again, they frequently can be seen oozing out of contained boxes, holes, doorways, people... these arms are my strengths and weaknesses, my darkness and my 

light. My Bluebeard’s Closet.

But I wouldn’t have gotten here without sketching all the time recently. I became afraid of drawing when I became a teen; it’s just something that I fell out of doing. Then I learned to shove all of my emotions inside – only to reappear in a bulimic fashion. During those teenage years, I was fully developing Depression, and then finally blossomed into my bipolar self. So Who I Am, not who am I? This is the language I am relearning to speak. I am learning how my self-proclaimed curses are truly my gifts.

I love to draw with the thread, maybe it’s the piercing action, the finality and intention of it. It is meditative, and when I do it right, I feel in the moment. I can’t stitch without being present. I wish this would transfer to things like cooking or cleaning, or exercising… but that’s a gift of imperfection. I let go of who I think I’m supposed to be, and embrace who I am – in small doses.  :)"

 

For more information regarding mental illness, I highly recommend TEDx at http://www.ted.com/playlists/175/the_struggle_of_mental_health

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