Digital paintings made with scanned brush strokes
April 4, 2018.
A few years ago I passed out in the studio. Within weeks, any exertion brought early symptoms of shock. I had always been so active and then couldn't do very simple things. A specialist told me that, without intervention, I was in danger of cardiac arrest before the age of 30. Another told me I could expect to be in a wheelchair full-time. A host of medications followed. I cut off my hair and bleached it, as it seemed all the color which made me myself had been washed away. I was unable to do all the things I loved, and suffered migraines which lasted weeks. I moved to the Bay, where the climate and specialists were more my speed. Soon they found antibodies and intimated that I likely had cancer. I was at the hospital twice a week for a very long time, frequently the youngest patient in every lobby.
Then, finally, after years - well after I'd resolved to accept a much shorter life - things began to improve. I slowly began to get stronger. It was a slow, painful process. It is still a slow, painful process - but today I can walk longer.
Now I know something true: disability is a constant state of life, just like wellness. It is not binary, with one or the other existing as an On or Off switch: they are both true simultaneously in all of us at any time. For everyone, the variables which exist to make you disabled exist within your body as you read this. The variables which tip the scale one way or the other are legion and largely unidentifiable. What we think of as disability is only how obvious this dynamic is at any given time. We all need one another.
Now I go slower: I make time to rest, and time to feel joy, and time to relax. The necessary pause in my work enriched it in ways I could not have foreseen at that time, and I came out of the ordeal with perspective and a couple new skillsets. My life will never be the same, and I am grateful.
The work for the NEEDLES series was made during an extended period of severe illness, during which the surreal and absurd facets of medical discovery became obvious. For other work made during this period, please see Quiet Portraits.