Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Way to Re-Assemble Yourself

Regaining Strength, mixed media, 6" x 8"

So what do you do when you've been metaphorically pooped on? (BTW, thanks to my friend Kristen for that phrase.) What do you do when someone is unkind to you, uproots the ground you're standing on, makes you question something about yourself that, prior to the encounter, you felt quite good about?

This is what I do: I put myself back together by creating art. Well, to be honest, first I cry a little (or a lot) and allow myself to feel off-kilter for a while. I feel sad, I get mad, I become very existential in my thinking and really think about the issues, and then I become so exhausted that I take a nap in the heat of the day with my two cats flanking my sweating body.

Then I try walking. When I feel stuck, I move. Physically move. So I "walked it off" a little, but I still felt the negativity in my gut, stewing away.

And when the walking and talking and crying are over, I create art. The piece above was my way of dealing with an encounter that unnerved me this week. I was feeling stuck just talking about it, and certainly with letting it rot in my mind and body, causing a big stomach ache yesterday. So I put myself back together with some found images and watercolor crayons.

I identified what I wanted to feel again -- strong, open (but safe in this openness), confident, and clear. And I identified the chakras that I felt were affected by this upsetting encounter: my third eye, throat, solar plexus, and root chakras. I made these chakras strong, circular, and radiant. And I added two protective bird guardians to remind me of my support system when moments in life go awry.

I hope that you don't get squashed by someone's (perhaps unintentional, but toxic) words, but if you do, I advocate what I now call "Re-Assembling Art." Put yourself back together with images and paint and pens and found objects and whatever else you are called to use. You are whole, but may not always feel like it. Return to that feeling of wholeness and show yourself how strong you are through image-making. Re-assemble the parts you feel been have tattered or broken or smeared or smothered or blown apart--and begin to shine again.


  1. Lovely Lovely idea! Oh you have my mind and soul and being just grooving on this idea. I do feel blasted to pieces sometimes. Usually just mop and bitch and whine about it. Never thought to really walk around, visualizing re-assembling the pieces! Fabulous. Thank you, Courtney!

  2. Wonderful, Courtney. Artists are familiar with creating assemblages-- why not re-assemble yourself?

    And then there are altered books--why not altered moods? Or an altered self? Just take your old self, stained with that toxic effect you wrote about, and gesso over it, add collage, paint, whatever. And voila: a re-created self to present to the world (and the mirror).