Posts Tagged ‘MS’

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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My Beautiful, Altered Brain | Altered Book

November 18, 2012

Here are some altered book pages I’ve been working on for My Beautiful, but Altered Brain series.  I transformed a children’s board book with some of the photos I had made of the digital art I created of my MRI scans with some text content from the recent issue of Momentum Magazine, the quarterly publication of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Altered Book Pages | My Beautiful, Altered Brain

 This altered book includes 10 years of my MRI scans and shares my experience.

I’ve also been creating more digital art with the most recent MRI scans that I just had:

During my neurology appointment this month, I gave my neurologist one of Elizabeth Jameson‘s beautiful catalogs that I received from her a few months ago to keep sharing her inspiring work and the grateful impact her art has had on me throughout this year.  My altered book is dedicated to Elizabeth and her reminder that “the brain- even a brain with a disease- is beautiful, complex, and intriguing“.

MRI Digital Art for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

June 13, 2012

Here are the first eight digital art images I’ve created with my MRI scans for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain:

First I photographed some sections of my old MRI films, then used photo editing software to transform the photo into digital art.

I really enjoyed the creative process of altering these scans. The process of experimenting & transforming each image provided me with an openness and freedom to explore different themes in a way that I couldn’t before.

As I faced each image and reflected on my experiences, I started to focus on those personal strengths that I believe have helped me the most in times of need related to managing illness: hope, bravery, learning, perseverance, and gratitude.

To my surprise I started to view these images, my driving need to create them, and my overall experience as a celebration of so many important things related to support, treatment, trying to stay healthy, active, being positive, gratitude, and balancing life.

I thought about everything I’ve been able to do, enjoy, create, give back to, and appreciate since my diagnosis 10 years ago.  While it hasn’t all been easy and can surface feelings of denial, isolation, frustration, worry, and uncertainty, there’s still lots for me to be thankful for.  These images are a reflection of that.

 My experience has inspired & contributed to making choices & doing things I didn’t think I could do, but I did- and it’s all good!

A big part of helping to be able to start this process of art-making with my MRI scans has been the inspiration of Elizabeth Jameson and her art, so this is definitely worth another mention. I’ve so admired her work, story, and advocacy from a distance via the Internet for awhile, but throughout the last few months I’ve enjoyed an e-mail correspondence with Elizabeth which continues to motivate me even further, has helped with additional reflection about how one views illness & has put much into perspective for me. Very grateful for this connection and support!

I hope to continue to develop this series further through perhaps using the images to create an altered book, a video or maybe use for some digital storytelling content. Making progress… 🙂

More from My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain: Hindsight + Foresight = Vision | Gratitude Collage

May 5, 2012

The month of May over the last five years always reminds me to pay special attention to the concepts of hindsight, foresight, and vision. 

As part of the art and narrative I’ve started to work on for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain, it was five years ago this month that I experienced my first encounter with optic neuritis.  Optic neurtis can be a relatively common flare up for those living with some autoimmune diseases, but this was my first introduction…arriving overnight and sticking around for about three weeks.  

Lots of doctors appointments, a batch of IV steroid treatments, and some new MRI testing ensued while I lived in a world where initially I couldn’t even read the giant “E” on my neurologist’s eye chart with either eye.  Thankfully, my vision slowly restored to normal in about a month and the inflammation didn’t leave any serious permanent damage to the myelin surrounding my optic nerve fibers.

During this time of year, this experience especially offers me a constant reminder of appreciation.  This 5 x 4 gratitude collage on chunky stretched canvas provides an important visual reminder, acknowledgment, & celebration for hindsight + foresight = vision.  And on the back of the canvas I have written my many, many thanks with a little touch of kindsight.  🙂

hindsightforesightvision4.jpg

Hindsight | Understanding the nature of an event after it has happened.

Foresight | Providence by virtue of planning prudently for the future.

Vision | The act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.

My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

March 24, 2012
brain11.jpg

my brain: circa 2002

A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved and inspired 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 to help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art.

It was 10 years ago this month that my life changed forever when my own central nervous system, myelin, and brain wiring first started to misbehave.  In recognition of this year’s 10th anniversary, I think I’m finally up to the challenge of reflecting on my experience of living with a chronic illness and to make some art using the MRI films my neurologist handed to me in 2002.

Jameson’s call for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, really speaks to me to explore this dichotomy further through art-making with my own beautiful, but altered brain scans. I need to think more about what I want to make or how (perhaps an altered book?), but I do know it is really important that I create something.  This year’s milestone and re-visiting Jameson’s work gives me the motivation (and courage) to finally get started on something I have always wanted to do.

I even included this intention as part of my 2012 revo’lution as something to pay attention to this year.

You can check out more of Jameson’s art and research available online through the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The Beautiful Brain, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society if you are interested in seeing/learning more about her amazing work.

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