Ink and watercolor on paper
I make artwork that focuses on the aspects of life that are important to me, and that I feel in some way can be important to others. This series of works looks at both the emotional and physical trials of being someone diagnosed with a life-long illness. This theme, that until this series has rarely shown itself in my work, has been a constant part of my life as someone who has been diagnosed with a chronic disease. This show is titled Routine Checkup and it communicates my own experience of being humiliated and de-humanized by doctors, nurses, and technicians for so long that it has simply become a routine.
The idea of feeling inhuman is a theme that progressed as I worked on this series. Therefore, I decided to use abstracted figures that create an almost Surrealist take on the human figure. I did this to express the monstrous nature of what it feels like to be a medical oddity. I used a wide variety of lines that are extremely chaotic in their quality to represent the fear and anxiety that occurs when someone is going through medical testing. I felt it was important to note the alienation or idea of loneliness that can come with the territory of being a long-term patient, so I kept the backgrounds un-descriptive and atmospheric. Black and white was the main color theme used in this series to demonstrate the sterile nature of the medical environment. Throughout each piece there are hints of color, symbolizing the thin attachment one has to their humanity throughout this process.
Although I have touched on personal experiences in other pieces, I hope that by producing these works I can continue growing and exploring these ideas in a variety of media. I wanted to explore the idea of self-identity by looking at the experiences that have led me to who I am as a person. As someone who has gone through multiple diagnoses, treatment, and testing from an early age I wanted people to not only understand my own personal take, but to relate to the discomfort and pain anyone goes through in these situations. I made visual references to moments that actually occurred, such as being held down by nurses during examinations. I also felt it was important to touch on the idea of side effects, as there is no medication without one, and they often loom over the patient’s subconscious. An example of this is the rotting of teeth that can occur from many different oral medications.
By using my own life, this series represents my physical and emotional hardships with the medical community. By picking a media that relies on line and little color the work is an aggressively dark take on what it means to live with an illness, or chronic pain. We try not to let our bad experiences define who we are, but inevitably they will always be a part of us.
Copyright: Mary Bricker
Senior Capstone Exhibit Fall 2012, medical community