“On a scale of 0-10, what is your pain level at today?”
To accurately answer this question, you must first have a concept of what is 0 and what is 10 as Eula Biss writes in her article, “The Pain Scale.” For me, a simple number is not enough to fully understand the relationship I have with pain. I don’t have a concept of 0 or 10 on the pain scale so I can’t ultimately define the pain I am experiencing today. But if you were to ask, I could visually show you what my chronic pain feels like. It’s an uncomfortable tightness wrapped around my muscles yet a contradiction of loose wiring causing my body to slip from time to time. It’s a constant movement of those interconnecting wires causes my body to fold into itself. It’s the exhaustion of repeating my story to strangers, being sure to choose my words carefully so it’s not coded wrong for insurance.
I created this series to express my ongoing journey with chronic pain and its limiting characteristics that go unseen. This pain that goes seemingly unnoticed to the naked eye is represented in patterns and imagery drawn onto the model to lift the curtain as to what I feel goes on inside my own body. I use media such as digital art to explore the relationship between beauty and pain, self-healing and acceptance. Throughout my process of creating this body of work, I struggle to find a frequent symbol or visual representation that could accurately convey and embody what it is I am experiencing yet not seeing. This concept and what I use to visualize my pain is still ever changing as does the pain I experience and level it is at.
I provoke the viewer to question the stigma behind disability and what it is perceived to be. To me, the most important thing is changing the social constructs of disability and chronic pain. These constructs often steer us away from understanding disability rather than discussing it. I want my art to be a part of leading that discussion.