I Can't Tell You So Let Me Show You.
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
There are many different ways of making art. In fact, they are as many as they are artists out there. Let me share with you what is behind the artwork I produce.
When words aren't enough make some art
A feeling kept creeping in. No words for it. Over and over I would repeat a fictitious conversation whereby I would explain my inner world. Too many words for it.
I focus on the feeling, on how to describe it. This image gnawed at my brain incessantly. I just feel like I'm screaming and no one can hear me, no one sees how ragged, shredded, torn my body is. It is so obvious I am missing pieces so why do they act as if I was whole. If they cannot see, let me show them...
Let your art show you what is hiding within you
After Mute #1 and Mute #2 were completed, they revealed their secrets - my secrets - slowly and over a long period of time.
It didn't take long for me to realise that it was about sexual abuse. The missing pelvis and legs associated with the genitals and sexuality. The naked exposed body with no hiding in sight. The missing mouth or broken jaw indicative of an imposed silence. The clear agony of remnants of bodies who's mind is still trapped inside.
Yet I didn't realise the hidden events I were still processing. I thought they were about the late teens experiences of my life. Those, I knew well. As I was able to process older situations of sexual abuse, I would then realise that this was about the secret.
I use to pride myself in having no secrets, in being an open book. Until one day I realised I had a secret. One so deep it became a secret from myself as well. Now I know what it is about and I am slowly breaking the silence with words. It started with breaking the silence with an image or two.
Art as a tool to re-integrate emotions
Shortly after painting those pieces, as I was feeling this strong overwhelming emotion take hold of me again, I finally realised what it was: Shame.
How I made that realisation, I am not sure. It is a mix of the knowledge I have acquired on the subject matter and expressing it through my art. At the time I remember reading James Gilligan book 'Violence: A Reflection on the National Epidemic' which described shame extensively and gave me insights into many aspects of that emotion.
I painted some of my shame away from me and onto a canvas. Shame was thus physically removed from me, ready to be stared at and observed with curiosity and awe. All those hateful thoughts towards my being, those urges to punish myself and run away, were simply expressions of shame. A feeling like any other, one that shall pass too when its time is over. A feeling that is separate from who I am.
Images as a mediator to receive empathy
People's reactions to those pieces always stir mix emotions in me. I often find myself surprised when I internally reject the reaction I was hoping for all along. I quickly figure that they probably don't actually understand the piece properly, that they still can't see.
I am still holding on to the secret. Not the one that was imposed to me, the other one. The secret of my own experience, of my own complex inner world that is unique to me.
By sharing my art, I make myself vulnerable. Like rebels showing their secret bunkers are making themselves vulnerable to a newcomer.
I put myself at risk of exposure, of further abuse and humiliation.
I put myself at risk of empathy, of caring acts and kindness.
Every time Mute #1 and Mute #2 are seen, my inner world is seen too. By receiving others reaction to my art, I receive it for my inner world, giving me a safe space to experience this dichotomy of humiliation and empathy. Slowly I am learning to tolerate those seemingly paradoxical emotions within me. I am learning what it is to be seen in my flawed humanity.
Mixed media for mixed emotions
Both pieces are made using acrylic paints, watercolour pencils and pen on board canvases.
Each medium has their own characteristic which translates different aspects of the muted women shown in those images.
Acrylic is a medium that is Highly Processed. Thick. Robust. Vibrant. Imposing. Malleable while still wet. Permanent once dry.
Watercolour pencils are an attempt to Reconcile two mediums. Fragile lead in a Hard wooden case. Unpredictable with water. Soft. Translucent.
Pen is a Dark medium. Black. Intense. Unmissable. Unforgiving. It creates Boundaries and Outlines.
Canvas boards are Hard and Imposing. Their thinness makes them more Practical. They take just the space that they Need. Hold. Support.
In Art one can heal
In painting and drawing these I allowed myself to be in charge of my own healing journey. With or without awareness is irrelevant. I have something to say. The muted women on those canvas boards have a lot to say too.
So thank you for listening.