Author: Ana Morales

Self as Subject: The Twenty-Two-Year Decision to Paint My Chronic Illness

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The SAIC LRMFA program requires the completion of a 25-page thesis during the spring semester prior to graduation. I wrote my thesis at home in Roanoke and kept in touch with my advisor, Corrine Fitzpatrick, throughout the semester. Because of the subject of my paper, I often felt like I was journaling, so the process was actually quite enjoyable. I read a lot of great material as part of my research, including two books that have become new favorites: How to Write a Thesis by Umberto Eco and The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso. If you’re familiar with the latter, you’ll see the influence in my paper pretty clearly.

I’m very grateful for all of Corrine’s guidance and for the helpful feedback and support from my peers Jennifer Chadwick and Malika Jackson. My plan is to continue developing this piece of writing and eventually turn it into a short book. The paper is accompanied by a visual timeline which outlines events in my life that have led up to the work I’m making today. Both the paper and timeline are available below as PDFs if you would like to read/view them. xoxo

Self as Subject: The Paper

Self as Subject: The Timeline

 

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Spring Inspiration (March – May)

This spring, I was largely inspired by talks and pieces of writing, maybe because I was fully immersed in my own studio work and I was mostly seeking written and verbal guidance:

“We can never have peace if we cannot understand the pain in each other’s hearts. The more we interact, the more we will come to realize that our humanity transcends all differences.”

1. Article: An Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists by Wayne Shorter + Herbie Hancock

“L’Engle weathered 26 rejections before Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time. Many publishers were nervous about acquiring the novel because it was too difficult to categorize. Was it written for children or adults? Was the genre science fiction or fantasy? “

2. Article: “12 Fantastic Facts About A Wrinkle in Time” by Ali Parr

“Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”

3. Article: Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity by Maria Popova (selected quote from The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947)

“Where did I get the idea that being stoic and silent was the best way to be a strong young woman? Modern medicine suggests that we amputate, shut up, or extract what we’ve identified as the problem. That we must “overcome” or “defeat” our illnesses and our wounds. Take a pill, cut it out, burn it off, etc. But what if our symptoms have something to tell us? What if every articulation of our bodies, minds and spirits, pleasurable or painful, light or dark, were a message spoken in a perfect language? In this time when we have so many unanswered questions, the danger is not that our symptoms speak, the danger is not listening to what they have to say.”

4. Article: “Your Body is Attacking Itself”: How Language Can Get in the Way of Healing by Jesse

5. Work by Christoph Niemann

6. Amanda McCavour and her work (McCavour currently has an exhibition of her work at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA (Eye of the Needle) and she was generous enough to do an experimental drawing workshop with us this past spring.)

7. Work by Suzanna Fields

“But practiced at its highest level, mise-en-place says that time is precious. Resources are precious. Space is precious. Your self-respect and the respect of others are precious. Use them wisely. Isn’t that a philosophy for our time?”

8. Article: For a More Ordered Life, Organize Like a Chef by Dan Charnas

9. Holly Exley and her work

10. Tumblr Account: Dear Art Director

11. Article: The Illustrated Correspondence of Artists by Allison Meier

12. Podcast: TED Radio Hour

13. Fran Meneses and her work

14. Album: Good Grief by Lucius

Links: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14

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Things Happened + More Things Are Happening

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Hello! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you might know that the last few months have been hectic, exciting, and stressful. Very stressful. I think primarily two things kept me sane: the support of my loved ones and the fact that I really enjoy what I’m doing right now. The stressful part stemmed from having too much to do in too little time. At times I felt like I was spreading myself very thin and I was frustrated by my inability to dedicate an appropriate amount of time and focus to any one of my priorities, which all seemed relatively equal.

The spring semester officially ended last week, and even though I still have a lot to do, I feel like I can breathe again. The unfortunate (or maybe not so unfortunate) part is that my body noticed me relaxing and decided that now I was able to deal with some health-related obstacles. It sucks, but thank you, body, for not doing this to me when I was already struggling to stay afloat two months ago.

The past semester was incredibly challenging and, as most things go, ultimately rewarding. I was lucky enough to work with Janet Niewald, Corrine Fitzpatrick, and Sally Alatalo, three talented and generous women, who served as my mentor and advisors and helped me grow in different ways. In spite of distance, I have remained connected to many of my classmates through Skype, e-mail, and Facebook and I can’t wait to be reunited for our last summer together next month (!!!).

spring 2016 work

I mailed in my thesis last week, complete with a visual timeline, and I will share that here soon for anyone who would like to read it. My book is taking me longer to finish than I planned, but only because I love it so much and I want it to be perfect. Well also because I’ve been working on a million other things too. I’ve been sharing snippets of it on my Instagram and Facebook so make sure to follow me! You can find all the links to my social media accounts at the top of this page.

This summer, I’m traveling to Chicago again for my last residency (somehow it’s already that time). This last residency will consist of a big thesis exhibition in the Sullivan Galleries, thesis presentations, colloquiums, an art history class, a professional practices class, a class on how to do a thesis presentation, 3 visiting artist lectures per week, screenings, studio visits, and a one-night open studio event. Oh, and graduation of course!!

I dare say that most of my work for the thesis show is done, but anything can happen so I’m doing my best to prepare as much as I can before leaving. I will definitely share images once the work is installed, but basically it is made up of five panels of watercolor on Yupo paper that measure roughly 9′ x 9′ altogether. Over the next month, I’ll finish the paintings and prepare them for shipment to Chicago, where installation will begin as early as June 21st.

When I come home I’ll go back to work at the museum, get some teeth pulled (really), and finish preparing for my wedding. Clearly the excitement will not be over for a while! Thanks for reading and thank you to everyone who has been there for me during this crazy time, especially my fiancé and my family. XOXO

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Monster Art Rally 2016

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Last year I participated in the 1st annual Monster Art Rally at the Taubman Museum of Art and I’m happy to announce that I’m participating again this year! The event is taking place this Thursday April 21st from 5-9pm. Over 30 local artists will be drawing on-site while visitors watch and learn about the artists, their work, and the art of buying art. All artwork will be on sale for $50 and each piece will go to the person who draws the highest card. Proceeds from art sales help support educational programming at the museum.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase, plus all galleries will be open until 9pm, including the Norman Rockwell exhibition. See below for more details and click here to visit the Facebook event.

MAR 2016 Flyer

If you are a local business, you can contribute by purchasing “Monster Dollars”–pre-paid sponsorships that can be used to play in the auction. Click here for more info and here to purchase.

Hope to see you there!! xoxo

Need Monster Art

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January + February Inspiration

Note: Sometimes the things I include in these posts directly influence something I’m working on; other times I include things that just inspire and motivate me to continue making work.

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1. Flower parade featuring floats inspired by Vincent van Gogh in the Netherlands

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2. This heartbeat gif

“Envy will eat you alive; cynicism will eat your work alive.”

3. Jerry Saltz’s tips for art students

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4. Paintings by Guayasamín

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5. Exhibition: Queen by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Dana DeGiulio

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6. This sewing gif

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7. Poetry Readings

“One of the hardest things about being chronically ill is that most people find what you’re going through incomprehensible—if they believe you are going through it. In your loneliness, your preoccupation with an enduring new reality, you want to be understood in a way that you can’t be. “Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him,” the nineteenth-century French writer Alphonse Daudet observes in his account of living with syphilis, “In the Land of Pain.” “Everyone will get used to it except me.””

8. New Yorker article: What’s Wrong with Me? by Meghan O’Rourke

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9. Videos of the old masters at work

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10. Vintage NASA Posters

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11. Isabelle Arsenault and her illustrations for Jane, the Fox, and Me

“I’m not a celebrity, I’m a worker. I’ve always worked. I was working before people read anything about me, and the day they stopped reading about me, I was doing even more work. And the idea that if you’re a mother, you’re not doing anything—it’s the hardest job there is, being a mother or father requires great sacrifice, discipline, selflessness, and to think that we weren’t doing anything while we were raising a son or daughter is appalling. It makes me understand why some human beings question their worth if they’re not making a huge amount of money or aren’t famous, and that’s not right.”

12. Interview with Patti Smith by Alan Light

Links: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12

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Gabe Morales + Friends T-Shirt Design

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A few months ago I collaborated with my younger brother again, this time on a t-shirt design. If you’re new here, my brother, Gabriel, is a talented musician who has played all over Roanoke and other parts of Virginia with a host of other talented musicians. I’ve also worked with him on the design of his business card, debut album, and a few gig posters (Blues for the Holidays / A Brief History of the Blues). Check out his website for more info: www.gabemoralesmusic.com

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Our goal for the design was to create something simple, but bold. We eventually went with this pedal board design. I drew it by hand in ink first and then turned it into a vector. I was able to play with textures and patterns inside of the geometric shapes and then Gabriel played around with the color scheme and placement of the text.

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The design was printed on soft white cotton t-shirts by local printing company, Press Press Merch. For now you can purchase a shirt at any of Gabriel’s shows, but they will be available online soon. Click here to view his upcoming shows.

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Thanks for reading! xoxo

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22 Years

It’s that time again. The official day that I sit and reflect on my life as a person with diabetes. I say ‘official’ because this is something I think about daily (no special anniversary needed). It has now been 22 years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. To avoid sounding redundant, I’ll skip the details about the struggle of attempting to manage some kind of control over my body. Instead, I’ll share some exciting things that I’m doing right now and have been doing that relate to art and diabetes.

Diaversary 2016 Collage

  1. Children’s Book. Writing a children’s book has been a dream of mine since I was a kid myself. I’ve always loved reading and drawing and writing and thought “why not create a book of my own?” It’s taken a while to get to this point (I have many unfinished stories), but it’s real this time and I’m determined to publish it within the next year. The reason I’m mentioning the book in this post is because the book I’m writing/illustrating is meant for kids who are growing up with diabetes. I don’t want to share too much information yet, but I’ve been working on this since September and still have a lot of work left. I’m SO excited to share it soon. You can see peeks if you follow me on Instagram @anamoralesart.
  2. Thesis Work. For my MFA I have to complete a written thesis as well as create work for a thesis exhibition this summer in Chicago. Both are influenced by my experiences living with diabetes and the work that I’ve made about diabetes over the past six years. My goal is to document both processes over the next several months and share them here and on other social media platforms. I’m making plans for the steps I will take post-graduation, and that includes sharing my work broadly and figuring out how I can bring it into non-art spaces as well.
  3. Diabetes Study. This doesn’t directly relate to my art practice, except that it’s kind of like research. I’m currently participating in a 16 week study conducted by The Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at The University of Virginia. The purpose of the study is to test an Internet-based program for use with women with Type 1 diabetes who plan on one day becoming pregnant. The goal of the program is to help these women learn how to regulate their blood glucose levels for pregnancy. It is almost like taking a refresher course on how to manage my numbers, plus I’m learning lots of new information and making a greater effort to notice symptoms of high and low blood sugar.
  4. Education. While I don’t have much time to do anything else, I’ve still been thinking about what the next step is for me. In addition to being an artist, I am also an educator and I think there is great value in using visual art to spread information that encourages empathy. I am interested in any opportunity to bridge the gaps between people who are suffering in isolation and between doctors and patients. I want to talk to students, doctors, patients, parents, and partners about the power of art in the realm of medicine. Last month, my work was part of a display by Art in CME at the 41st Annual ACEhp Conference (Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions) and I hope to participate in more things like this in the future.

Stay tuned for updates and more documentation of my progress. Thanks for reading! xoxo

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Experimenting with Methods of Removal

Over the next several months I’m going to be making a lot more of these “cell” paintings that you may have been seeing and one thing I’ve been really interested in is methods of removal. Physically removing or covering these cellular shapes comments on both mortality and the nature of medical studies. I initially got the idea from artist Ross Bleckner, who has been a big influence on my work over the past year. He would paint flowers and then scrape them away to illustrate their short life span.

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Early last week I completed my first official experiment using watercolor on Yupo paper. I began with a grid (of course) and wrote down a brief description of how I planned to remove or otherwise obscure the painted circle. I then painted the circles and proceeded from there.

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Below are detail photos of some of my favorite results:

Removal Chart

Thanks for reading and looking. Please share if you like what you see! xoxo

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