Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who do I make art for?

I've been thinking for all this time that I'm making art for myself, that it's a selfish act, but I know that's not true. I make it for other people, to try to get them to feel what I've felt, to share my experience and the inspiration I get from it.

And that's why my marble is somewhat flat. It's cool, don't get me wrong, but it has no feeling.

Maybe I'll get some in there somehow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

 Happy Black Friday! This is from last night.

I'm working on a stop motion project.  You can see by the picture on the left sort of what it's like. I've built a wireframe skeleton, and I'm going to router the base so I can move threaded rods around and animate it. The threaded rods will allow the parts to move up and down. It'll be a pain and a half to animate but it should be worth the trouble.

That's going with this whole concept of growth and struggle. I'm going to be working with a dancer, who will be wearing a dress soaked in paint that will splatter everywhere as a symbol of progress and making a mark. As the short progresses, animated plants will start to surround the dancer. Eventually she'll grow into a topiary, a symbol of constant growth and emotional stability.

 This is a big project. It'll take a while to do but I have a potential team to help me.

Oh, and here's the marble I'm working on.

And these are the tools I'm using! Sort of. Not exactly the same, but close. The hammer's the same-ish.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

228 days

228 days ago I was brought to NYU Medical Center.

208 days ago I got out.

46 days ago I went back in.

16 days ago I got back out.

Tonight I'm depressed. Earlier today I was laughing. Before that I was motivated, carving marble. Earlier still I was depressed.

Yesterday I went to an art gallery opening, Lucia had stuff in there and there was a chance I would have an animation playing too. I don't know if he'll play it eventually or what but it wasn't playing for the opening so it doesn't matter.

I used to be a pro at schmoozing. Now I don't give a fuck, I just want to make stuff. I used to know the value of it, now I could care less.

I'm tired.

I don't know what I'm doing.

I don't know where I'm going.

I'm so tired.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is an animation I did yesterday. It was satisfying to paint and left me competely depleted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Here I Am

I'm dying to sculpt in marble. Dying. Positively actively deceasing.

So, I asked my parents if I could get a christmas present consisting of these tools and these classes at the Art Students League.

Isn't that exciting? And I'll probably be taking some good art history classes at SVA, since I'll be a FINE ARTS MAJOR! Can't wait for that.

God I'm so moody. I get depressed so easily, trapped in a gradually derailing train of thought which often ends in, "Well, I'll just kill myself" or sometimes, "Well, I'll just cut off contact entirely." Sometimes those are the easy answers. It's extreme black and white thinking, something we talk about often in therapy and DBT.

I hate being like this. I hate being not sane. Radical acceptance. It's okay to have a pity party for a few minutes and then move on. The whole concept of sanity is incredible to think about, as always. Einstein said, to paraphrase, "Insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting a different outcome," so sanity must be learning from your mistakes, by his logic. I do learn, but I still keep making the same mistakes. I'm trying to learn as much as I can through indirect methods like DBT and therapy, but I can't learn from my mistakes directly since I don't understand fully why I make them, or even recognize that they're happening.

Pity party finito.

Jessica's performance yesterday was just so gorgeous. There will be a webcast of it up some time, maybe a couple days from now. I'll post when it's up. But seriously, it was absolutely astonishingly beautiful, the program was perfect, enthralling. I didn't want it to end, and I teared up six times.

I also took a ton of pictures, and while we were at the zoo and such I got a bunch of pictures taken of me. I'll post them here when I get them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where am I?

I went to Pittsburgh for the weekend to see my sister's masters concert - she's getting her masters degree in flute performance. I have a serious case of Akasthisia, an obnoxious psychotropic drug symptom that manifests itself as a sort of inner restlessness which causes me to require constant change in stimulation and gives me anxiety if I have to sit still.

There's a lot of potential for some severe issues during Jess' concert, but I'm just so proud of her for doing such an amazing job with school and improving her performance ability so much. She's really got her game together, something I envy. My life has completely fallen apart. I'm comparing myself to her as I sit in her tidy, organized apartment with abundant decorations and I can't help but feel left behind. I'm so tired of having so many issues. I want to feel normal, with normalized anxiety and alleviated depression and none of the symptoms of complex post traumatic stress disorder affecting me. It's overwhelming to be a mental patient, to be legally certifiably insane. I'm going to be certifiable soon, actually, so it's not official yet. I'm not sure how it works but it will help me with getting more medical care and potentially help me get food stamps.

I desperately want a normal life. How did I get to this point? I showed so much promise a year ago, but I was miserable. Yet I was accomplishing so much, and now what am I doing? I don't even know where I'll be tomorrow, much less a few years down the road. Hell, where will I be in an hour, emotionally? Will I make more life changing, mind altering epiphanies?

I need to rest. This is too much.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Wireform

Yep, just chillin out on the table.

I've been working more on the second wireform.

I've designed her for stop motion filming, so I experimented with sitting her in different positions. That was fun.

I like to think for this one (-->) she's saying, "Where's my head?"

And this one is just a basic sitting on the floor position. She's mostly going to be in the fetal  position, not sure why I didn't photograph that.

Anyway, I still have lots of work to do on her. I'm debating taking all that polyester out of her and lining her with fabric so it's smoother before stuffing that with polyfiller.

I also tried feathers. Bad idea. She looked like she'd been tarred and feathered. I thought it would be poetic but no. Don't do it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day in a Bottle

Day in a Bottle
Light blue paint in smokey water,
reds and violets drifting through
She's in the bushes, couldn't spot her
Hide and seek is my game too.

If I could take the day,
and put it in a bottle
I would toss it overboard and sail to tripoli
I could do oh so much more with so much less
but here I am, locked up in a world of excess

Yellows, greens, blue and orange,
black trees white trees brown trees too,
Leaves are falling, seasons change,
they just hope they grew.

If I could take the day,
and put it in a bottle
I would pack it full of candy just for you and me,
I could do oh so much more with so much less
but here I am, locked up in a world of excess

Silver streaks through dark blue skies,
light blue shining over white,
What's that look there in your eyes,
What is in the air tonight?

If I could take the day,
and put it in a bottle
I'd break it open lost forever just you wait and see
I could do oh so much more with so much less
but here I am, locked up in a world of excess

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Creative Cycle

So, this is another project I'm working on, maybe. It's a small part of it, at the very least.

I like vomit as a metaphor for the creative process. I think it's all just regurgitation with different flavors and colors that come from inside of you. You know, vomit.

I kind of want to animate it in watercolors. It's so visceral, so crazy and so fun I can't help but get excited about it.

Emotion Sign Language.


I spent time in the psychiatric unit of a hospital for most of October. While I was in there, I made hands. Eight of them. Six came out especially meaningful, so I'll show them here. Click the images for larger versions. They have veins and fingernails and are excruciatingly detailed using the tine of a plastic fork, a spoon, a paper towel and a toothbrush.


This one took days for me to do. I was unhappy with it six times, mashing it up after each. The seventh time I used a new technique, molding parts and hanging them off a plastic cup first then compositing them.




"Overcome" was particularly meaningful. It was when I felt like I was clawing my way out of my depression and trauma issues, I was forced onto a path of recovery and I was doing my best to make the most of it. I don't know what I would have done without sculpture. My parents dropped off some Crayola Model Magic, which is what all these are made from, when they came for the second family visit. That was so much better than the first. The first left me wanting to jump through my window, and I tried.


To balance out the intensity of all the others I decided to make one that is truly at peace. This one took me hardly any time at all to make. I was in a calm, peaceful place for once. I've gotten so used to turbulence that when it abates it's really special to me.

Well, that's everything. I have lots more art to document, but I'm out of good hands. I made a couple more but I don't think they're as good as these.

Topiary finished!


So, now I have to plant it and start the vines. I'm thinking of getting some English Ivy to wrap around it while the Creeping Fig grows. It's a big leaf, but might look nice to contrast the small leaf. I'm not going to right now though, I used up my paycheck. On the right is a slightly different angle so you can see more of the scale and shape of it. I still have some minor adjustments to make, squishing in the hands a bit and such. They're a bit big, as you can see on the left, but that's because I wanted fingers and that's just how big they turned out at their absolute smallest practical size. They should be able to squish in a little more though, which will help.

I had to find a bunch of ways to support it the arms and the head. They didn't want to stay in their position, so I had to string wire from 2/3 up the arm and lace it down to the metal rod from a slightly higher position than I wanted, knowing it would settle a little. They're good where they are now and I think they'll stay.
I dropped myself in there for scale. She's about 1/2 life size, maybe slightly more. The potter growing out of her chest dictated her size, in a way, because I needed a decent area for a plant in there and the roots needed space to grow. Hopefully it will be okay with just this size, because it's really not too expandable. I'll be putting a plastic pot in her chest with the natural fabric stuff as just a plate for collecting excess water so the sphagnum moss doesn't mildew or mold. Plastic for the light weight. Otherwise I'd think terra cotta.

Oh, and there was one more innovation. I used some J-B Weld to secure the rod to the base, and I'm securing the lady's position to the rod later today. She can spin a little right now and I don't want that.

So, it's almost done. It'll be a three-day crazy adventure. I'm so excited to watch it grow.

EDIT:: Okay, all done! I have to get more plants, but this is what I have, all set up!

EDIT 2::

I cut the rod off. It was disturbing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Topiary progress report

Here's my current progress on the topiary. You can also see my cello case there on the right :)

Cathy said I rarely do anything the easy way. Well, I just did! I found an elegant solution to my conundrum.

What I did was buy a cheap hanging planter with a stand, I'm not sure if it was supposed to have the stand or not but I used self checkout just incase.

You can see the stand and the base of the foot on the right. It's working well! I just shoved a 1/3" metal rod through the topiary and into the base. I need to get something to cut the rod, but it seems to be standing without bending too much so I'm content

The basket I bought also came with this handy dandy natural bowl that will give me the drainage I need!

I look sleepy in that pic. I blame the seroquel.

So, now I need to cut that bowl to form and shove it in the lady's chest so she can have some plants growing out of there. I need to come up with a good name for her. My sister Kim could do it I bet. I just fired off a text to her, we'll see if she comes up with anything.

So, the march goes on. She's worth about $100 now in materials and I need more sphagnum so when I'm done, she'll be worth maybe $120. I could sell her for much more though!

Such an exciting project. She reminds me of the dryads from fantasia.

Friday, November 6, 2009


It's the most random thing in the world, but I've gotten into designing this topiary. Well, I shouldn't say it's random. I'm obsessed with two things in my art: plants and people. So I'm making a living, technically breathing (in reverse) human being her arms up in exuberant ecstasy. It's made from chicken wire, sphagnum moss, ficus repens (creeping fig), a 14" garden bowl, and some other stuff. I need to get a steel rod and some cheese cloth before I can go any further than where I am.

I've molded the head, shoulders, torso (I'm placing a plant in her chest so the ficus can branch out from there, so it's open for now), and molded and stuffed the lower half of the torso and both legs. It looks really cool, I'm very excited for it, but I need to balance it carefully and find a good practical way to keep it supported. Maybe drill into the terra cotta pot (I just wrote terra cotta potta..) and secure it with bolts, but that runs a big risk of breaking the pot, especially if it tips over or there's pressure put on the sculpture. It's a dilemma.

I think I just need to balance it especially well with the arms reaching back more than I intended so it has a well-centered center of gravity. I'd like it off center but unless I... oh, I could use concrete. That's an idea. A very, very heavy one though. Not ideal. I need to bring this back with me to MA and use the sculpture studio / metal working tools at UMass to do what I want, I think. I'll see what I can improvise here, in any case.

This is very stream of consciousness, but sometimes it's nice to write, it helps me think things through and if anyone is curious about how my brain works when I'm making art this is a good example.

Counterweights! I could use a counterweight if I want it off center. But a well centered gravity might look good now that I've settled in to the idea. I like off-center because it gives it direction and motion, but if it's centered maybe the motion will be more upward, straight up. I just want it exploding up, vibrant, like a shining beacon, like an emmy statue or something. Except not holding anything, and no wings, and no awful gold. Living plants, it needs to be alive.

I need to sleep, I took my sleeping meds half an hour ago and they're doing their thing. Hope this post wasn't too scattered.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

AT and OT

I've done a bunch of writing exercises for art therapy and occupational therapy while here, where we have half an hour to come up with a response to a prompt or are given a sheet to work with. Here's an example.

"My personal mission statement"
To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living I, Lily, will:

Lead a life centered around the principles of Growth, Empowerment, Honesty and Fairness.

Remember what is important in life is Learning, Sincerity, Friendship, Relationships and Happiness.

Revere admirable characteristics in others, such as Passion, Commitment, Courage, Enthusiasm, Faith, and Patience, and attempt to implement similar characteristics in my own life.

Humble myself by acknowledging that I can be Impulsive, Reactive, Excessive, Insecure and Tedious and by constantly striving to transform my weaknesses into strengths.

Recognize my strengths and develop talents as a person who is Adaptable, Imaginative, Open-Minded, Sincere, Visionary and Insightful.
The words in bold are my words, and came from five pages of exercises to choose them. That one is structured. Here are my less structured ones.

little drummer girl
bata tum tum tum
march, little drummer girl,
enlisted in the draft.

my arms are tired,
my feet are sore,
my mind is in the past.

bata tum tum tum
little drummer girl,
marching day by day.

i could have jumped,
i could have flown,
but I have dues to pay.

march, march, march
little drummer girl,
the haze it drizzles on.

my glasses fog,
my vision's gone,
my feet ..start to slog.

march! keep marching,
you're a drummer girl;
you cannot think to stop.

i'll take a breath,
my glasses clean, and keep
marching step by step.

I'm so frustrated with being here. When I wrote this I was just counting the seconds before I could get out, back when the plan was to leave last friday. I made a series of sculptures to express my painful, bored exasperation with being trapped in here, which I'll share when I have access to a camera.

Here's one where the prompt was to come up with six animals I feel a kinship with and write a poem or short story including them all.

Creatures I admire
The spider weaves an intricate web,
delicate patterns to ensnare its prey.
A sting like a scorpion, quick to attack
whatever challenge might come its way.

The unicorn stands on its own, alone,
a whimsical freak for the mind.
The one footed crane stands alone in a pond,
its reflection rippling time to time.

A fox with its cunning, wit and charm,
strides through the forest with curious eyes.
It burrows a den, wraps itself then
transforms in a chrysalis. The butterfox flies.
I like the idea of a butterfox. I drew one when I was sixteen. It's a fun hybrid. Some of the stuff I'm sharing is a little embarrassing, to be honest, but that's okay. Yesterday I shared that chapter from a possible story about my time here, and before that I wrote an as-it-happens type of purge of what was going on, which was freaking me out. Anyway, this one I just wrote today. The prompt was to write a short story or poem about my superpower of choice.

"Something new about myself"
I'm sitting in my room begging to escape, watching swallows dip and glide. Suddenly there I am, feathers and beak, but the window is bolted shut. Then I'm a fly. I crawl through a tiny crack in the frame and zip outside, become a bird again and dip and soar with the swallows.
I land on the ground and I'm a snake, weaving through the grass and stones. I see a mouse and sneak up on it, ready to strike. It sees me and darts away.
Now I'm a leopard, silky sleek and teeth to kill. I slink into a group of trees and climb one. I clean my paws and watch the world go by, feeling comfortable and calm.
I see a man who used to taunt me walking alone and pounce on him with my claws out, calmly gnaw off his face and then step off him, letting him live. I transform into him, with his face, and say, "You sick freak. Get used to hearing that." Then I'm a bird again, exalting the rush of retribution. But slowly I feel worse and worse about my action.
I feel so guilty. I land and become an aloe plant, but it's a useless tack. I rise into a tree and reflect on my awful mistake as I soak myself with the sun's pure light. I grow.

I'm back in my room now. Outside isn't ready for me yet, and I need some way to keep myself from veering back to repeat my mistake. Those sorts of things take time, so I'll wait, for everyone's sake.
I want to get out of here, but I understand the need to wait. You should see what I made in OT today. It's a card, with the inside being my feelings and the outside being how I think I'm presenting myself to the people around me.

On the inside it said, in clipped magazine letters, "Fuck everything while I sleep. I want to leave!" But, I'm feeling alright now. Still frustrated but not so angsty.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chapter One

Apologies are only hollow when followed by a 'but...'

     I write that on a sheet of hospital paper, emphasizing words for typography. Exhale. I stick it on the wall.

     My arms drop down by my sides as I lean back in my chair, gazing at my new sign. God, I would kill for a cigarette.

     Two weeks ago I settled on a beautiful, foolproof plan to fall off a building and my therapist ruined it for me with the phrase, "We're going to the hospital." One dazed stumble later and I'm in an ER waiting for a bed in a psychiatric ward.

     What am I doing here? I just did some cost-benefit analysis on my life and came up short.

     "Attention, attention. Lunch is here, lunch is here."

     Begrudgingly, I push back my chair and force myself to stand. On my way to the day room I pass by Martin and try to make eye contact. He's shuffling along, staring a mile beneath the floor. Glad I'm not schizophrenic. We call it, 'the schiz'.

     As I queue up for my tray I stare at the bland watercolor to my left.

     "Ms. Starks"

     They're so respectful here. I take my tray and enter the day room. The old men are at my usual spot by the window, so I sit next to Nancy and Hanna with raised eyebrows and pursed lips, an expression reading, 'Hello, people I barely know but have seen cry. I'm going to eat my boring hospital-rationed lunch with you.'

     A loud little bell rings behind me and I flinch.


     Damn that old man. Can't even open his pudding by himself. Deaf as a doorknob and loud as a fire truck. I hope I have the good sense to off myself before I can get like that. Hannah catches me making a face and clucks disapprovingly. Judgmental bitch.

     I have no drink. I glance at Hannah's tray and see she has three tubs of grape juice.

     "Could I have–"


     She hands it over, looking me in the eye to find some sense of appreciation for her charity.

     "Thank you. I like your necklace." It's okay.

     "Oh this? It's not so great."

     I love this place. Everyone has issues and keeps them in a glass display case, like an art gallery of depressed, legally insane people.

David opens his passenger door for me.

"Let's go."

My heart flutters.

My tray hits the floor with a loud crash, peas and grape juice everywhere. I wince, blushing and squeezing my eyes shut, and embarrassedly peek with one eye. Yep, they're all staring at me. I stand up and make for the door, where a nurse intercepts me asking what happened and I shake my head as though that answers the question, avoiding eye contact. I glance up for his reaction.

     "An aide will clean that up. Let's go to your room and talk."

     I share a room with a girl around my age. She's unconscious, her face buried in a pillow.

     "Elena can you give us the room?"

     She grunts, not knowing which direction is up.

     "Sandra and I need to talk."

     I smile weakly at her. I just got her in trouble, we're not supposed to sleep during the day. She rubs the back of her head.

     "Right. Yeah."

     With a sudden life to her she marches out. Eric, the nurse, closes the door.

Folsom Prison Blues

Today, my roommate had a complete mental breakdown. The breakfast cart left early and she missed it, and couldn't stand her life anymore.

I can hear her screaming from the quiet room.

When we people lose sight of all hope we lose our words. There's no room for vocabulary with that much hurt, just sobbing and noise which releases just a bit of that pain.

She's still screaming, but she's more aware now. The doctors are probably giving her meds and strapping her to the bed. Let go, she's wailing. It's eerie, how her voice echoes down the halls.

Every time I've asked her how she's doing, she answers, "It's torture."

Hearing pain is like hearing a yawn. Contagious.

The halls are off limits to us.

I can't wait to get out of here.

Finally, I can go get my computer. I was writing this on paper because I had to get some distance from it, it was too much for reality and writing about it makes it somehow easier to accept.

When I was out there a few of the nurses and doctors were smiling awkwardly at each other. I understand, but it still felt so wrong. My poor roommate has been dealing with this torture for seven years. One day things just changed in her brain for her. She says she was washing the dishes and then all at once, this fog overcame her that made everything unreal, everything just shapes and colors with no form and no significance. She's gotten more able to deal with things, but no treatment in seven years has really helped. It might be some severe form of derealization disorder but no doctor knows. They all have their ideas. Stroke, childhood trauma, severe atypical major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, a brain injury. EEGs disprove a few, she doesn't hallucinate, she doesn't have the usual PTSD or CPTSD symptoms. She's far too consistent for münchausen syndrome. It's hard to say what it is.

She can't be alone. I just hope she finds a treatment that works.