A friend and I were recently discussing why it is that we create art, what it means to us. This has been on my mind a lot in these past months as my practice has deepened. Painting has always made sense to me, from childhood until now, but questioning why I love it has created a sense of peace amid my most prevalent personal demons: my health, or the frequent lack of it.
Painting creates a sense of balance in my life. Always a source of calm and focus, it has helped me through pain and illness, depression and anxiety, and the general stresses of school and life. I refrained against associating my art with my health struggles for a long time, not wishing to typecast myself. I explored it a little bit in school before turning instead to more figurative work. Such kept my fears and vulnerabilities concealed — something that's not so great in regards to art, which mirrors the soul — and eventually led to a sense of inner turmoil and detachment from both myself and my work. My embracing of abstraction finally began to shift this, and alongside it my ill health. Suddenly I could truly let loose of all that was weighing me down. Not only could I begin to make sense of it, but by balancing color on the canvas I found I could do the same for my life. Alongside this, I have been working on speaking up and developing my voice after years of being silenced — by myself, by medical professionals, and by people who just didn’t understand. I’ve come to realize that there doesn’t need to be a separation between the ‘bad’ in my life and the ‘good’ (or, my art). I don’t define myself by my illness, and nor should my art be interpreted as such. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use my experiences and struggles to find beauty and purpose.
From a young age, I have had a preoccupation with nutrition and alternative medicine (I would buy massive reference books and write out lists of herbal supplements for myself and ailing family members). So, it’s no surprise, really, that healing is at the forefront of who I am as a person and how I approach my art. I have been exploring various means of strengthening my practice in this vein, which I will discuss in upcoming posts.