This year brought me a big commission for a large institution and I have spent the last five months making 'Better Together'. It was really a dream project for me!
I was asked to create a piece utilizing T-shirts from Epilepsy Awareness campaigns and any other materials I wanted to use to create this 36x48 inch piece. I got started in early January 2022 embroidering some of the flowers and the bird, and I have just completed it in mid-May. Below you will find a link to the Youtube video which compiles many clips over hours and hours of making, compressing 5 months into less than 5 minutes.
The process start to finish entailed: First I designed the brain using fabric collage techniques, carefully considering what fabrics look good together and where to place the pieces of T-shirts I received. Each of the cerebral lobes is done in a slightly different color range and yet they all blend together. Once the fabric design was done, I sewed all of the pieces onto the canvas back using my sewing machine and invisible thread. When that was complete, I began the intensive period of hand embroidery which took about 3 months. I even took the piece on the road with me during a long road-trip and you can see me stitching in a hotel room at night, During the final stages of embroidery I added bits and bobs of trim, lace and buttons and even a golden neuron charm that I had in my stash. In the final steps, I stretched the canvas onto a large canvas frame, stapled it into place and added gesso and finally several coats of paint.
The really great part about doing this commission was that I learned a lot about Epilepsy along the way. Some of this shows up in the piece: purple being the predominant color as that is the color used to promote epilepsy awareness during the month of November every year, and red is not used (except very sparingly) as it can be a trigger for some kinds of seizures. The title 'Better Together' was taken from one of the T-shirts I received and reflects the role that so many people play in the treatment of Epilepsy.
The most startling piece of information about epilepsy is the prevalence of it. One in 26 people will experience some form of epilepsy during their lifetime. If you'd like to learn more about epilepsy - I can recommend these sites:
Cook Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
Recently I was treated to spending an afternoon with my friend Linda and her daughter Monica. Linda and I first connected at a shared workplace when she saw my very first two Neuro Art pieces and asked if I could create a piece to her specifications. In particular, she wanted the brain to face the other direction. My first two were left facing and she wanted a right facing brain, explaining that she had a special connection, as her daughter had a hemispherectomy when she was young and had the right half of her brain removed.
It was at least a year later when I actually got to meet Monica, an incredibly happy, engaging, and gregarious 29 year old woman who leads an active life in pursuit of both what makes her happy, and in service to others. Below is an edited 16 minute interview with Monica and her Mom about her surgery, her life and what she wants you to know about being disabled. It is missing a few key bits of information which got edited out: most importantly, Monica has worked for the last 9 years in a hospital as a toy cleaner - she goes in 3 days a week and loves her job. She also loves horse back riding! And, as you'll hear she lives a "happy, happy, happy life!"
Thanks to both Monica and her mom, Linda for sharing their story with me. Due to privacy concerns I am not sharing a photo of them but above is the piece that I made for them and that hangs in their home.
In case you prefer to read the interview - a transcript pdf file is below:
Chronicling my adventures as a Neuro Artist. I love to make work centered on our magnificent brains and learn about how it all works in the process..