There are two constants in the work I´m currently making which are medicinal plants and disease. In terms of form, I´m interested in layers, texture, stitching, mark making, and exploring new ways (for me) of making art.
I like working fueled by impulse and intuition and this is how the piece featured below started.
As I worked on this piece I was always thinking of disease-what is it? What does it do to us? How can I portray what it feels like to be sick? It´s been a useful but hard exercise to do. I don´t think I can say I've ever been super healthy, but lately I´m always waking up really sick and it takes about three to four hours for me to feel some kind of relief. The only thing that keeps me from feeling fed up and bitter about this is the fact that I can use this experience for my current body of work. This piece is one of several attempts to portray how I feel when illness governs me.
I worked mostly from instinct, trying to feel more than think-not easy for me. This might seem to contradict what I said at the beginning of this post but the way I use intuition and impulse are highly controlled and rational-if that makes any sense. The image above is of the piece when I felt it was finished and ready for something else happening to it. I thought it would be interesting to add some medicinal plants so I placed some dried chamomile sprigs and photographed it. I always photograph my work because for some reason I can evaluate it better as a photograph.
I´m really interested in stitching some of my pieces; there´s an element of pain I relate to illness that can be portrayed with it. I used free motion to stitch the whole paper (which is a larger format than the smaller ones I´m usually using) again not thinking but trying to feel the chaos disease brings to the body and letting my hands do the work without over conceptualizing it. I added a medicine box (I´m collecting of all the medicine boxes I use) and some dyed gauze at the bottom. I also stitched the chamomile sprigs to it, I broke the sewing machine needle twice! Even though I like the results, I´m not entirely happy with them, but this led to the piece below.
The background is one of my experiments making gesso and ink resists. I took another box of medicine and transferred an image to it (this one and the one used in the piece above are images taken from an Ernst Haeckel book of sea creature illustrations. Disease makes me think of insects, creatures that exist in other worlds and inside ourselves taking over our bodies and these illustrations evoke that. The plant is valerian root, known to calm the nerves but also used to cure asthma which is one of the diseases that's inhabiting my body these days. One that won´t leave.
To be continued in Part II.