Art meets Ocean

Art is prophetic at times. The bodymind announces itself in pure form, as clearly as a gasp. The depth of the visual conversation with my own body, through art, stuns me. The emotional key is heard immediately, followed by a wake of thematic overtones and harmonics that ripple outward. The broad wake, a mental mirror that is as bright as the brass hardware of the moon in this mixed media piece, "Of the Ocean" (c 2008).

This week, recovery from surgery forced me back to the website at Johns Hopkins. I discovered the euphamism for Meniere's Disease is the "otolithic catastophe". Public opinion would appear to support this. The stares and vague disgust in others eyes when they watch my faltering gait and balance offers daily evidence. What do you do when you see an alert-eyed woman of 54 lurching like a broken stork, arms windmilling erraticly like a swimmer drowning on level cement? People think one thing: drunk. I lurch along slapping ashore to the nearest wall or other vertical surface, clinging to these rocks to stop me from being swept back out to sea. I ask people to speak slowly so I can lip read. Exhaustion. [Dunes Day with Silver Lining, c. 2008]

I look to art for comfort even as it strips away denial. At least I can remake the environment symbolically, reclaiming lost treasures from these depths. When pain and nausea stole sleep again in spite of fatigue, everpresent as a fog bank at sea, Of the Ocean unlocked to me the secret of its strange spacial duality. The spliced space has been somehow accurate and annoying. Like adjusting your eyes to see a page, while simultaneously looking through a magnifying glass at it. Bifocal. Though I knew what effect kept flattening the space, the haptic patterns, I could not account for why. Why did I need to splice depth and flatness together in one piece? It hit me. This evokes the moment when swimming, you survey the horizon, then eyes open, slip down beneath surface tension into the pressured underwater world. Water overtakes all sensation and perception, as you move through wet space like some astronaut in a skin suit. This the window into my daily Mystery, a personal icon. It's message broke through as I worked to manage acute pain and pressure from the new shunt in my mastoid. The puzzle connected in my body, letting me weep with relief as well as anguish. The duality now made sense, bringing comfort, though there is no exit. Life is not without pain, that's non-negotiable. Thus, which would you choose; pain without, or pain with meaning? Pain is. The meaning is of our choosing.

I will live as a zebra, striped with constrasts. ["Zebra" c. 1997, E.P. Whitlock] I'm stuck between the hearing and deaf worlds, the walking and the wheelchairs, 'normal' healthy and the disabled or differently abled, German but American, recovering but looking inebriated, the list goes on. After 26 years of being an Art Therapist and Consultant at the local and national levels working in research and clinical intervention for neuroatypical children and their families in the field of Fetal Alcohol, other Drug and most recently, Methamphetamine Effects, I am now the hard to diagnose and treat patient. The ad would say "sea-zebra under the waves seeks kin of Jacques Cousteau and other explorers to join navigational adventure into blue beyond. All activities to be conducted at 40 ft below the surface without equipment." What contrasts do you reconcile, and what meaning do you take away with you?