This year became very sick. My Grave’s disease, that had always been kept in check via medicine, was now throwing punches at the rest of me. Anaphylaxis, asthma, and angioedema became norms for me without much warning, as well as the ER, handfuls of benedryl, various inhalers, and the use of epipens. I have never been sick, never like this. There were weeks and weeks where it was all I could do to stave off my throat swelling up, and keep my body from being burning hot and itchy. I have always been an energetic-never-a-bad-day-hard-charging-happy person. I would average 40 miles of biking a week via commuting to work and back. Not only was this bad, but also terrifying to have happen so suddenly and seemingly not letting up.
I want to point out this story has a happy ending, I’m fine now. After 8 months of trying to understand what was happening, realizing that it was my thyroid, and taking the steps to get rid of it I am on the road to better. ( I DID have to give up my love of skinny jeans, tomatoes, and wine— what a horrible fate!)
During this turbulent time in my life drawing became a help, an escape. I was able escape reality and help myself re-shape how to think about it. This isn’t a new concept for the wider world, but I became pointed for me personally. Art making became this sharp spear that I could thrust back at everything. It allowed me to gouge out a place for my heart and mind from the war in my body.
The drawings I made during this time were much more driven by my emotions then ever before. Keeping things cool and tightly under control was how I approached making drawings earlier. Once I got sick things started to flow apart, everything was given more room to breathe. The tightness of the drawings I once made, I couldn’t focus on anymore.
Usually small and made in bed, my drawings began to take over the entire piece of paper. The dotted lines demarcated space in ink on the paper, making polygon-like shapes, and triangles that became a strange new characters. There was a rounded softness that still existed in the shapes. Each drawing began at the center, intuitively I built systems of polygons out from other systems of polygons, until a particular enticing space was made.
Flattened and layered a different sort of spacial quality developed. At times thick black pencil lines almost obliterated the initial parts of the drawing. Colored pencil started to exist vibrantly between the dotted lines and to wash the paper with color. It seemed that frustration and hope could exist in the same space together.
I thought about my anxiety, body, frustration and the impending-doom-feeling (which, I can say now, is an interesting side-effect of anaphylaxis) when making these drawings. I also thought about W.A. Bentley’s earnestness in photographing snow crystals. With the bitter cold and numb fingers he would stand out in a storm, but also the utter excitement he must of experienced at finding one that was truly unique. The symmetry that Bentley sought was of six fold symmetry at its finest, and yet rare. Every snowflake being unique is a true statement, but finding such perfect symmetry as his did was even more unique.
As I started making these drawings I knew I needed to draw something earnestly less then perfect. I needed to make drawings that were earnestly sideways, imperfect, lopsided; having vibrant colors and erasures, having different forces falling into them, splitting them open, and torn paper. I thought about how different kinds life could grow within them. Spider webs, mushroom spores, city dirt and grime.
I think of them now as small poems of hope and resistance of the unknown, drawing to make it familiar. That these could be a way of getting away and back again. That life was, at times, challenging and hard and depressing, but in the end I will be somewhere new and that might be good.