Artist Ana Mendieta once said, her work "continues to teach me everything. It has always been ahead of me and I learn what it is about years later. Work makes me strong, it defines me."
Making art is my coping mechanism. I obsess about art because it offers me an escape. Art reveals my true feelings. It is my mirror in times of chaos, uncertainty, and fear. Making art shatters the wall of numbness I feel in my day to day. Like Mendieta, my work is also ahead of me. It teaches me new things almost every time I look at it. That can be days later to years later. In Between has revealed to me a number of things I thought I was hiding. Like many of my trips into nature, I had no idea what I wanted to create. When I am in the woods or by water it almost feels like these spaces call me. I can’t really explain it. I see a place and my body gravitates towards it. Throughout my camping trip in Maine, my body continuously gravitated towards rocks and spaces where I could insert my body in between. At the time I didn’t realize what I was doing, I was just doing it. It wasn’t until I later received the rolls of film where I saw the pattern.
Like many of us, my year has been *takes a breath,* it has been scary. My mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer last June and my life has drastically changed. Since August of last year, I have been in between LA, Maryland, and New York. I have felt numb to everything except for art. Even when I am making my art, I sometimes still feel numb. I will say, I thought I was numb while making this body of work. When I saw the photos and performances from In Between, I saw the stress my body was holding from this last year.
Like most of my life, but specifically right now, I have felt like I had no other choice but to be stuck in the present. The anxiety about my past and my future at times feels like it is too much to bear. It is overwhelming. It is heartbreaking. It can be paralyzing. So I have chosen to opt out of all those feelings by distracting myself with relationships, working, weed, and art. Not able to visualize my future (being scared of my mother dying, scared of me dying, scared of death) has me stuck in my present and my past. So I find it interesting that my body chose to be in between rocks and dirt while in Maine.
Being in between these spaces made me feel safe. For three days that is what I did: insert my body in between spaces. It offered me a brief moment of security, belonging, and comfort. It simply made sense. This body of work has taught me that I must first acknowledge these feelings in order to move forward. As the dirt, rocks, and earth change through time, I must change through time. Even if that means changing locations, changing my wants and needs, or changing the narrative of my past, present, and future. I have learned that my most vulnerable self offers me the answers I am looking for. My vulnerable self offers me honesty. It offers me understanding. It offers me true love for myself and others.
Even after these realizations, I still struggle with feelings of anxiety, anger, uncertainty, sadness, and fear. I am grateful that I can feel these things now and not lock those emotions away into a place that always comes circling back. I am dealing with my mother’s cancer. I am working through my insecurities, my fears, and my past. I am finally accepting life is hard. It has always been hard and it will always be hard, but I am alive and living this hard life is worth it. My life matters, my body matters, my feelings matter, my thoughts matter, my art matters, I matter. I hope you remember you matter too.
My work makes me strong. It defines me. And with that said, I present to you, In Between.