I initially wrote this to relinquish the fear felt by the lingering memory of a nightmare but I got off on a tangent and then the ball really got rolling. I always feel like a liar when I share my art and not myself with my patrons and friends. My work had been dismissed as not having depth, due to my chosen low-brow and cultural based subject matter. My personal background gives the clarity and context to my art. The perspective with which I work gives background and depth for my motivation for making my little cheeky monsters and although they may look like cartoons they serve to face darker subject matter with unflinching humor. I exorcize my own demons and fears by making monsters that are much less scary than the ones I have faced in my own life.
I am feeling very honest today, after having an awful nightmare. I dreamed that the scar from my back surgery had started to grow and spread. It began to spread all over my body covering my hands and face, even the tips of my fingers was covered in scars. I woke up in a cold sweat, checking my arms and hands, feeling relief that it was just a nightmare. I sat up and felt the small of my back locating the scar with sad familiarity, had not grown and it was the same size. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom to splash water on my face, as I looked in the mirror my eyes caught sight of the scar that lined the base of my neck from my thyroid surgery, that removed a large tumor that was believed to be cancerous. Normally when I see that particular scar I feel lucky my doctor said, "I was a lucky one, that I dodged a bullet". I did dodge the cancer bullet and I do feel lucky, I touched the border of the scar and reminded myself that scars show where we have been, they don't dictate where we will go.
When I think back to where I have been, I realized I have more scars than just the few that were visible to the eye. My life was pretty easy growing up. I was twenty when the real world came crashing down upon me when my mother died. Her death forced to me grow up. Prior to her death I had dropped out of junior college and was in that weird limbo of what to do with myself. I had started painting and sculpting as a hobby, a few months before she died. I loved making art it was fun and made me content. Two weeks before my mother died I asked her how do I grow up? At my age she was married and had one child, she seemed so much more responsible and grownup than I was. She smiled told me that growing up just happens with time and change. She encouraged me to follow art professionally and get an education to support further it.
I strived to be the kind of woman she would be proud of. I went back to school and feel in love with the world of art. Two weeks before my 23 birthday I tested positive for thyroid cancer, but luckily I dodged a bullet. Only a year later, in the same month that I found out I had been accepted to San Diego State, I found out I needed back surgery and that I have multiple sclerosis. I was shattered by the diagnosis. This was a time for self-pity and upheaval. Friends fell away, some family members couldn't handle the diagnosis and many relationships crumbled under the weight of the disease and the toll it was taking on me as a person. But Brandon stood by me the whole way through, my brother, sister vique and sister in law, Sara, were constant sources of positivity and support.
For the first year I had become semi- agoraphobic, I feared that if I left the house the next horrible thing would strike me down. I was basically paralyzed by fear. During one of my many hospital stays I met a woman who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, she had fought the disease for years. She was amazing, she had done so much and really experienced the world. I told her of my paralyzing fear and she told me to not be afraid of the unknown, what I should fear is the regret caused by not going out and living. She told me to go out and have fun, follow my dream and have as many experiences as I can. Her candied advice began to change how I saw things.
Eventually I returned to art but my hands had changed, I had a constant tremble that prevented me from drawing a straight line. I was devastated by the loss of my once sure hand. I got diagnosed with chronic neuralgic pain, but was actually relived by the diagnosis because it proved that the debilitating pain I was feeling wasn't in my head and I could take action to manage some of the pain and return to school. During my first semester back to state, one of my art history Professors told me to accept the new changes in my hand. To be brave enough to let go and stop fighting it and see where it takes my sculpture and painting. So I followed his advice, focused on a subject matter that I loved and see where my hands would take me. I started sculpting little monsters and watched youtube videos on how to improve my skill sets and I started the work poured from me, I loved. I had a resurgence of my multiple sclerosis and took some time off of school. I decided that although I was pretty much bed ridden, that I would still try to make art or at least work on myself as a person. I worked on techniques to manage my temper and be more positive. My Father had a terrible temper and also suffered from chronic pain. After my mother's death he lost his mind and started being emotionally abusive. Being his daughter with his temper and now suffering from chronic pain as I well, I feared becoming like him. I feared a future of making my family miserable and just becoming and angry ,abusive monster. It was not an easy task and I really had to focus not to jump to anger, during times of stress but as the years have worn on I found my calm much faster and with little active effort. As I worked on myself I worked on my art, I know that low-brow art is really not accepted by the academic art community but I love it and it makes me so happy. I began to show my work online, at my etsy shop and started getting really great feedback. I had returned to school and began to take art classes, my professors hated my subject matter. I wasn't weird enough and had been accused of making work with no depth or substance. I looked into the professors eyes as he made that accusation and thought, Wow, you have no idea. I make monsters and look at the subject matter of death with light humor because I have seen real life monsters. I was haunted by my own specters of fear and doubt. Werewolves, a common subject matter of mine, are creatures born of rage and anger, I know a little about those emotions. Death and illness are subjects I have looked at and chose to wink at and face with a cheeky grin. I have faced my own mortality and have chosen to live and follow my dreams. I could have given up so many times, accepted the horror in the uncertainty of my future health and ability to function. His lack of understanding in the context of my work and motivation caused him to judge myself and work at face value.
I am more alive than I ever was before and I face uncertainty every day and I still get my ass out of bed, when I physically can anyway. The irony is not lost on me that a disease that robs you of sensation has forced me to open my eyes and feel my life. I live more, love deeper, enjoy the small things and am just so appreciative for everything and everyone in my life.
Since getting sick my life had really changed, old friends and family that were unsupportive and dangerous are now gone from my life. I have the love of my life by my side, a smaller but closer family unit and I have art. I still have to work around chronic pain in my primary hand and numbness due to my condition, but I see now that I will always make art. I know my condition may alter my ability but I am in love with this. I found it and it saved my life gave me a voice and a positive way to express myself. I found art like I did punk music, during the darkest parts of my life. I will always find my way back to it and it along with my loved ones will light my way in the dark.
Listening to: Merchandise, Become what you are
Reading: salems lot
Watching: the wolfman
Drinking: Hansens Diet Black Cherry Soda