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I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I want to share with the world, how I want to be seen and who I want to be as an artist. At the most basic level, I just want to share in love with the world. When I think about how I want to do this, it comes down to using art, to exploring and highlighting the positive ways the world has been shaped and in turn how it has shaped us. I have always lived in urban environments, growing up thinking I could never live outside of a city. I wouldn’t have anything to do, I would get so bored.

To some extent, that may still be true, though I’ve become accustomed to my thoughts and accepted them readily, following them down rabbit holes and through windstorms and over waterfalls, never knowing where they might end. I don’t need outside entertainment to prevent my mind from standing still these days and I’m constantly bringing in more and more information even when my mind seems to already be buzzing. I’m impatient, not wanted to get stuck or uninspired, pushing myself to always be better than I think I can be.

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve read snippets and stories from years past, you’ve read of my internal sorrows and possibly of some of the treatment I’ve endured from friends and lovers. I’ve shared my anger and sometimes couldn’t contain myself and I call out a human or two in the process. I have anger issues. We all do. There is so much that is unfair and unequal in the world and we all want to blame someone or something. Pointing a finger outside of ourselves can feel good in the moment, though it doesn’t solve the root cause. I admit there are times I blame others for my misfortunes, there have been many events in my life that have felt out of control, where I didn’t have a choice. I am angry at many people who I’ve felt have forced me into acting certain ways. Ultimately though, my life is only mine. I am the only one who has my thoughts and which thoughts I choose to share externally is also up to me.

Almost 2 years ago, I was punched in the face. Of course you might gasp at this and yes, it was terrible. It sent me into the lowest I have ever been, in a place where I was blamed by being friends with a person who would do that (as if I had seen it coming), and I lost almost everyone in my life due to vices or what I used to cope. However, that punch in the face might have been what I needed. It was the first time I didn’t roll over and take it. As I stood clinging to the door frame and his fists stopped moving, I for the first time glared right back into his eyes and dared him to touch me again. I refused to back down and even after I had escaped onto the street and he came after me, declaring his love and grabbing my arm, my other hand found the knife I was gifted and I pulled that knife to his throat, believing for the first time that I could and would kill another human.

After that night, I was scolded, I was told I made bad choices and I was told that I had led myself to the very point of destruction. Maybe that’s true, all I can say for sure is that I wouldn’t take any of it back. I do not blame the fact that I am a woman, I do not say that it would have been different had I known this or that. I am proud that I responded the way I did and as friends and family dropped away from me, something else emerged; the confidence that I can stand up for myself, that my desire for survival is strong.

Up until Thanksgiving last year, my ex-husband would call me every few months to tell me how much he still loved me, a tie neither of us could let go. I always wish him the best and at that time I still had some kind of hope that maybe he could change, so I would excitedly tell him about what I was accomplishing, hoping for some kind of approval. One of these times, I had just finished painting an obese woman biting into a strawberry while also surrounded by a swirl of strawberries. I sent him a picture, holding my breath for what I thought would be an expression of joy. Instead, I was met with a long silence and he sharply stated, “I hate it”. I shouldn’t have been surprised, this was the man who had torn my artwork off the walls, as I worked on it, in a rage that I was cluttering our apartment. I asked him to explain, thanking him for his honesty. He continued to describe how I had tried too hard, rendering the woman expressionless, coming to the conclusion that it looked like propaganda.

And this is where everything clicked. Positivity can be born out of negativity, just as a match can light up a dark room. We all have choices we constantly make, which words we use, how we decide to treat others, which side of our face we show to the world. Through the negative impacts I have had, I have turned around and shown the beauty. I love the print of my broken nose with my top hat because it isn’t about the violence that I endured, it’s about the strength I proved within myself. In order to rid myself of anger, I must first accept that it exists, even as I choose to show the world my smile.

There is so much heartbreak and pain in this world, there are so many atrocities that are out of our control and while it’s easy to blame another, that doesn’t solve the issue. Look first within and see what good can come from these places of darkness, where can we shed a light and turn it into something that could help another or even the world. I take other people’s faces, asking them if they have a favorite picture first. The collection that is growing are comprised of snapshots; of individual beauty, love, strength and each one tells a story about how each of us is human with our own struggles. We each choose what we share with the world, I’m choosing love.