New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain

January 13, 2016

When I was a senior in college (1994), I joined the American Art Therapy Association. As a member, one of my favorite benefits was receiving Art Therapy: The Journal of The American Art Therapy Association. As a young student getting to know this profession, reading the literature inside was always inspiring. I also really enjoyed seeing what art graced the cover. Often the very first thing I would do was open the issue and look for the masthead about the art and what art therapist created it.

So a few months ago, it was a huge surprise and honor to have the opportunity to contribute my own art for the last issue of 2015 (Volume 32, Number 4). In particular, an image from 2012 My Beautiful, Altered Brain series, which is super dear to my heart.

This week, I was able to see and hold this issue in actual print while mine is still in route- a copy I received from the current President of the Buckeye Art Therapy Association (thanks Molly!).

Wow! A very surreal moment on lots of different levels!

Volume 32, Number 4 (2015) | Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association

Volume 32, Number 4 (2015) | Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association

Artist Statement: My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain (2012) | A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved by her work, research, and interpretation of taking her own medical imaging and brain scans as a personal expression and inquiry to understanding and coping with her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, as well as help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art. Jameson put a call out for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, and this invitation, in addition to personal communication with Elizabeth inspired me to explore my own experience with the same disease. In 2012 I started to use my own MRI films & brain imaging collected over the last 13 years to create digital art, mixed media, and altered book art as a way to process, manage, and share this health related journey.

*****

I have been working on some new digital art, after having another MRI done this summer of my brain and spinal cord. While standing barefoot in my thin medical gown after my testing was over, I enthusiastically explained how I make art with my imaging, its purpose, showed some examples on my phone, and inquired about how to get these new images. The radiology staff was super helpful and eager to supply me with a CD on the way out of my appointment!

I was excited to start working on some new images and taking control of my illness again through this form of art making. So empowering and affirming to do in response to such an unpredictable and frustrating disease. I first converted my MRI imaging into JPGs.  Then I did some digital painting using ArtRage and photo editing with PicMonkey:

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

 

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

 

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

My experiences with this chronic illness in the last couple of years has taught me new lessons & gifts around patience, vulnerability, openness, and to respect/listen to my body’s voice. I’m also so thankful for the kind support I’ve received in response to this series and the loving presence and understanding that surrounds me everyday.  🙂

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2 Responses to “New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain”

  1. Rastogi, Meera (rastogma) Says:

    Lovely work Gretchen.

    Thank you,

    Meera Rastogi, PhD, MAAT
    Art Therapist and Licensed Psychologist
    Co-Coordinator and Associate Professor of Psychology
    University of Cincinnati, Clermont College
    4200 Clermont College Drive
    Office MCD 215 K
    Batavia, Ohio 45103
    meera.rastogi@uc.edu
    513.732.5331
    http://www.ucclermont.edu/academics/Social_Science_Department/rastogi.html
    Set up an appointment here: https://drmeera.youcanbook.me/


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