When my son was really young, we would walk around Ambler, Pennsylvania, stopping at all of our favorite places around town. Art in the Storefront was one of them. His, because there was always something new to look at and he loved running circles around the center island display case on the fun black and white tiles. Mine, because I dreamed of someday showing my artwork there. I told him that every time we visited...."Jack, someday my art will be in these windows", I would declare this even though I wasn't even painting much at that time. But I never gave up on that dream, even when my Lyme was keeping me from doing what I loved and knew I was meant to do.
Okay, I am going to fast forward here...there is a whole lot of story between there and here, but that is for another time.
In 2018, I was offered a show in the storefront gallery and I couldn't believe it was actually happening! My exhibit slot was scheduled for May-July of 2020, so I had 2 years to prepare, and I got right to work. I sketched and journaled about all the possible images I would create for this collection of work and then it hit me like a lightning bolt!...since May is Lyme Disease awareness month, I would explore my experiences with Lyme through my art.
My aim with this body of work was to help shine a light on this misunderstood and complicated disease. I found myself using many different mediums and techniques to convey my experiences because Lyme is layered and diverse. Through my paintings, prints, and photography, my goal was to share my experience of living with and healing Lyme Disease.
Each piece of art reflects an aspect of my journey. The acrylic paintings such as "Two Lost Souls" and "Yellow" represent a time before I knew that I had Lyme Disease, when making art had become a struggle. I was determined to paint despite the confusing visual and physical disturbances that I was experiencing and started painting large and abstractly, with a palette knife, and with less toxic materials than my usual oils, using my fish as inspiration.
Fish and fishbowls have been a recurring theme in my art. They are symbolic for me on many levels, representing grace and movement, but also conveying feelings of loneliness and isolation. In my painting "Breathe", the fish represent feelings of living outside of your element, out of sync with the world around you...like a fish out of water.
The use of bubbles in collagraphs "Pink Bubble" and "Bubble Girl" illustrate the isolation and separation often felt when dealing with a chronic illness of any kind. To me, the use of bubbles also symbolize insolation and protection from the world around us. Something that many of us have felt over these times during quarantine as well.
"Fog", "Herxheimer" and "Trapped", the trio of black and white monotype prints are my "bad guys." They are a very small sampling of the many symptoms experienced with Lyme Diseases, as well as with the healing crises you can encounter during treatment.
The Epiphany duo, "A Mother's Vision and "A Child's Vision" were inspired by my ah-ha moment when my 5 year old son innocently asked me "what color are your spots mama?" This moment began my journey for answers to these bewildering symptoms that I experienced since the age of seventeen and then realizing that my son was as well.
Although this work is about the many confusing aspects of Lyme Disease, more than anything, my intension is to start a conversation about this illness and to let those who are struggling know that there really is light and hope and healing. This hopefulness is conveyed in the painting "Only Waiting for this Moment to Arise"
Due to Covid, my show was postponed from it's intended May opening. It ended up showing from November 2020 to March 2021. Having this body of work show during the pandemic brought an unexpected layer of meaning. I was overwhelmed with the feedback on how my images not only spoke to those struggling with Lyme disease, but also resonated with so many during these difficult times.
My art is a reminder to just keep swimming, even when life feels hard and uncertain.
Please feel free to contact me with questions about my art or about my journey with Lyme.
...just keep swimming