Recently I gave an artist talk about my work at THE Fine Art Gallery in Milwaukee. The focus of my most recent art is brokenness, and the beauty after it's broken. While the paintings themselves are literally dropped and broken after they're painted and then repaired using the Japanese method of Kintsugi, they serve only as an analogy for the physical body, the human spirit, the emotion within and humanity itself. Seeing this beauty-after-it’s-broken is not always the easiest thing to do, more often the opposite. It can be evasive, like looking for the silver lining in a cloud or the pot at the end of the rainbow. But look hard enough, long enough and it’s there, somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
I’ve had my own brokenness…some privately, some publicly, some with just family and friends. Physical challenges give way to mental courage, emotional breakdowns find me pulling myself up by the boot straps and taking another step forward, creative blocks that lasted years give way to the best work I have to offer, and spiritual crisis find their way to new awakenings.
Oscar Wilde wrote in 1889 "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” In my case it seems somewhat interchangeable as I was diagnosed with a cracked vertebrae a few days after my talk. I had taken a bad fall in February, a silly fall really, while rehanging my freshly washed shower curtain. I guess it’s true when they say most accidents happen within 3 miles of home, as all the falls I’ve taken are not honorable stories such as skiing down a slope of fresh powder at heart pounding speeds or falling from a breathtaking rock climb but rather, racing down a flight of stairs with my body speeding ahead of my feet (can stake claim to several of those!) or the simple act of rehanging a shower curtain. I’ve replayed the fall 1000 times in my head and it still makes no sense, but the end result was landing on the stone floor below, on an already damaged spine and torn rotator cuff.
Yoga therapy and physical therapy worked wonders, combined they enabled me to complete five of the six pieces for the show opening in April, working pain-free at the easel for 10 or 12 hours at a time. I greatly enjoyed both the opening night and then several weeks later giving my artist talk, all the while unsuspecting of the brokenness within.
Perhaps it twas Divine Intervention that allowed me the time I needed, but the day after the talk I experienced unparalleled back pain. It was an easy diagnosis and this Tuesday, June 2nd should come with a fairly simple fix which I’m actually looking forward to. Minimally invasive, to put it simply the break will be cemented back together, Kintsugi of sorts within my own body! From all I’m told that bone will, in 10 minutes time, become the strongest bone in my body and fingers are crossed it will relieve 90% of the pain. The other 10% is arthritis and heck! I’m willing to take that without complaint. In the scheme of things if you’re looking at spine surgery this would be the one you want to have! I feel lucky, even blessed as it could have been so very much worse.
I don’t know how this new inner brokenness will affect my work, but one can be assured it will, at some point down the line, show itself in paint. It may take time to process and there will be layers to peel away, add, remove, accept and combine until the sum of the event can be made whole, and then shattered and broken, only to be cemented back together, ever more strong, resilient and beautiful than the original.
Be well, Love to All!