Many illnesses are invisible and to an outsider, many doubt the severity, or even the entire existence of the condition. From personal experience, and from hearing many in my chronic illness community communicate similar interactions, a disabled individual often needs to prove their invisible illness; to friends, family, colleagues, medical professionals, and more. What if our invisible pains were, in fact, visible? Would we be taken more seriously? Would we be believed easily? Would visibility effect our social and professional lives, and in what ways? Would we get medical care and diagnoses faster rather than remain in a state of in-between? Would making the invisible nature of our conditions bring on even more ableism that we currently experience? These are all questions I navigate in my narrative.
With a heavy focus on my own experiences living with both diagnosed and undiagnosed illnesses, many of which cause unrelenting pain, I depict how my pain would look like if it’d be visible while using photographs of woman in place of myself. Often using poems alongside imagery, i illustrate the struggles with living with pain, both from known and unknown causes.
Thinking of both eras prior, such as when the diagnosis of hysteria for women was prominent, as well as the present, help aid in my exploration of my themes. While using both Victorian and early 20th-century photos of women, along with poetry, I create works that blur timelines with tales of similarity.
The Ache and the Light
Cyanotypes composed of dark, moody, ethereal figures, many intertwined with overgrown flowers and gold leaf compose this series. I use Victorian era concepts of grief, mourning, and flower symbolism. The duality of flowers, how they are used as symbols of sympathy yet in celebration of life, is evident in these prints. After the loss of my friend, Amelia, I found myself consistently grieving, while simultaneously questioning life after death. I depict my thoughts on our Great Beyond: our loved ones waiting for us, surrounded by the flowers we leave behind for them.