Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nothing Comes Out: Art as Emotional Release

People grieve in so many different ways. My husband just goes quiet. My sister explodes into a firework of love and tears and fury. My other sister calculates and completes tasks. She gets stuff done. My brother hides away behind a straight posture and generous smile. I paint and write.

My Dad died last year, and my mother (who divorced him when I was a baby) suggested I paint flowers. Seriously. I tried. Her thinking was that it would help me recover some joy. But joy is not me. Well not these days, anyway. So I've gone back to painting songs. And the first one that came out was silence.

Traumatic would be a fun word to describe many of my childhood memories. I used to have this dream all the time (all the time meaning recurring every few weeks from early childhood until after I had my own children) where someone I loved was being killed and I was screaming for help -- but nothing came out. I would wake up full of a adrenaline and with a weight in my chest that was hard to relieve. The unheard scream is a kind of static that imprisons the fear in my lungs and drowns me. I'm tired of painting flowers with this scream caught inside me, so I guess my art is changing, now. Enough of trying to stage other people's faces and voices in my work, though I still value that and am sure I'll get back to it. It's time for me to put my own voice on the canvas, now.

Goodbye silent scream. Hello Emily's voice.

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