Recently, I was asked to produce a piece for an abuse survivors art show. As a survivor of child abuse, domestic violence and rape, I decided to create the piece as a visual reminder that I am safe. See, the little child sometimes demands comforting and reassurance. She becomes afraid of things that bear a resemblance to her hurtful moments. She cries, she screams and she rants. In short, she sometimes has a tantrum.
Yet she is safe within the adult that is me. She is heard and validated, cared for and so very loved. She is enough. This painting was a breaking open for a breakTHROUGH. I painted, I cried, I became agitated, I walked away and abandoned her and I came back for her.
I began with the background 1st: Lime green, yellow, pinks and lavender. Acrylics, Dylusions inks and watercolor crayons. Then I created a child, based on this photo of me when I was 3 years old.
The adult me came next. The painting went well and I was pleased with the results. The faces, ohhhhhhhh the faces dealt me fits. At one point, I got fed up and considered leaving them faceless. The amount of resistance that arose while trying to the paint the features confused, frustrated and dismayed me. So I walked away again and let her sit. Why was this such an issue?
When I came back to her, I burned some sage, used my green tourmaline for discernment and really listened to what the canvas had to say. This is the answer that came to me: By leaving the painting faceless, I didn’t have to own the traumatic things that happened to that child, that young person, that woman. It was a watershed moment that angered me. Angry why? I was angry because I came out of hiding four years ago and have been open about the abuse and recovery from it. Yet in this moment, on this canvas, I didn’t want to own it.
I made up my mind right then and there that I could not silence this child. This child was crying out for a voice and I needed to give her one. Her pain needed to not be anonymous. So I painted faces and these faces are not perfect. I don’t need them to be. I need to not be anonymous in my pain.
I will be creating a sister piece that is featureless to stand in unity with the other survivors of abuse who are not yet ready to share their truths or who are still suffering abuse.
May I present “Place Your Ear Next to Your Soul”