Tag Archives: art

Life is Black and White and Grey

An incredibly beautiful, tragic, word-less journey. As told through greyscale photography.

The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer.

~

I don’t even feel obligated to say anything about this. It speaks for itself.

Leave a comment

Filed under Visualizing Illness

The Art of Illness

What I find fascinating about the idea of using art to express the illness experience is that it translates the physical and mental components of illness into a visual image. While some illnesses are often visible, others remain invisible. Art has the power to visually illuminate the visible and unveil the invisible.

As I explored artistic depictions of illness, I found that art seemed to be used in three main ways: to encourage another person’s illness experience, to express one’s own illness experience, and to depict the illness experiences of others.

Fiber Arts and Loose Ends includes a series of quilts created as tributes to survivors, an uplifting collection for sufferers. While some are more abstract, including depictions of plants used in cancer treatment, others incorporate language into this artistic medium. Words of Love by Annabel Ebersole incorporated the words “Courage,” “Love,” “Faith,” “Belief in Miracles,” “Hope,” and “Trust.” These encouraging words reminded me of the triumph narrative, but they also embody an optimistic take on the quest narrative.

While art is sometimes turned to for relief and encouragement, it can also be used as a space for self-expression and release. William Utermohlen used art as a form of narrative, to tell the tale of his transformation with Alzheimer’s. His drawings reflect his gradual loss of self and identity through the distortion of his facial features. Incorporated colors seem sporadic (the fourth drawing in particular seems to reflect the chaos narrative), until ultimately Utermohlen has become a faceless black and white charcoal sketch.

In addition to providing support for the ill, art can be used to spread awareness to the well. The Scar Project is a particularly powerful photography collection of breast cancer survivors, especially depicting women who have had mastectomies and are redefining the female body. With the motto “Breast Cancer Is Not A Pink Ribbon,” these works are a direct resistance against the pink ribbon that has become the face of breast cancer (and is also a form of the triumph narrative). These works also revise the restitution narrative of breast cancer by suggesting that rather than a return to normalcy, breast cancer can result in a redefinition of the female body and female identity.

Just as Frank’s narrative categories often overlap and intertwine elements of illness, art seems to transform and evolve illness, achieving a multiplicity of narratives within a single work of art.

Leave a comment

Filed under Independent Study, Visualizing Illness

Narrating Illness through Dance

This week, I’m on the look out for non-narrative illness narratives. Expressions of the illness experience that occupy any form of media.

I’m beginning my exploration of multimedia illness narratives with dance. As someone who has danced forever, I have always been fascinated by movement. Recently I have learned about dance therapy and movement programs, and I love how dance and movement have been adapted to help with coping.

I began with a youtube search for ‘illness dances’.

This first video is called Schizophrenia, and is “loosely based” on the illness.

These movements embody the marriage of chaos and calm, of sharp and fluid, of control and collapse.

Another video I found is called “An Interpretation of My Illness- Crohn’s disease.” Unlike the previous one, this dance is choreographed by an individual who has the illness that the dance expresses.

Her incorporation of movements on the floor demonstrate the “falling” aspects of her illness, the numerous head rolls reveal her anguish. An interesting aspect of this dance is the song chosen: “Her Diamonds” by Rob Thomas, a song written for his wife who has an auto-immune diseases.

Last but not least, how can I forget my own dance loosely choreographed about autism? After seeing this video, I was inspired to choreograph a dance last year to “Fix You” by Coldplay.

It’s interesting to look back on my own choreography through the lens of illness narratives. I didn’t even realize that I was depicting the light of triumph narratives. At the time, I described the circle as a moment of “chaos,”; now it seems like those movements express the “chaos narrative” that words cannot capture.

Haven’t had enough dance illness narratives? Here’s an epic production of “Childhood Illness…Our Story”, Part 1 and Part 2, telling the tale of “a mother and young daughter’s journey through chemotherapy.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Dance, Independent Study