Category: Diabetes

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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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 (!!!).

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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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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.

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  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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Speed, Multiples, Density, Layering

I’m currently preparing for a new semester of classes, which includes preparing to write my thesis…which is crazy. At this point last year, I had no idea what my thesis would look like or if I would be prepared for it when the time came. When I compare all the work I’ve made in just the past few months, let alone the past few years, it seems as if I don’t know what I’m doing. And sometimes I truly don’t. At times I couldn’t decide which medium to use, whose advice to listen to, or what to make. What I’ve learned recently is actually something that I already knew. I had to work through all that uncertainty to get where I am now. I had to try out different mediums and follow up on advice I was given and make a bunch of stuff that I wasn’t satisfied with.  And now I feel a lot more certain of the work I’m making.

Anyway, the images below are documentation of one of those paths I ventured down. I experimented with layering, manipulating, and mechanical reproduction via photocopier. The process was incredibly satisfying and I’m very happy I spent last summer creating these pieces. One day I might return to them…we’ll see.

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The next few images were taken as I prepared for our summer open studios. You can see the number of pieces on the wall dwindling as I removed the less successful ones.

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I played around a lot with the density feature on the photocopier. And I say ‘played’ because it was surprisingly a lot of fun to just stand at the copier like a scientist adjusting different parts of the process and layering random materials on my drawings.

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Until next time! xoxo

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Fall 2015: Work

The past semester was a bit overwhelming–hence the lack of activity on here–but I’m so excited about the work I’m making. Here are some photos of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months. Next up: thesis!

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World Diabetes Day 2015

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and today is World Diabetes Day. If you’ve been here before you know that diabetes is a huge part of my life and I’ve spent the last several years making work about it. Sometimes I make art to shed light on what it’s like to live with diabetes and sometimes I make art as a way of coping with the disease. Sometimes it’s both.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to explain how I feel when it comes to my diabetes. I am fortunate enough to have access to the medication, supplies, and care that I need, and I am capable of administering my own medication every day. I’ve achieved many of my goals, I’m at a healthy weight, I do most of the things I want to do, I have a supportive family, and I’m marrying someone who is willing to deal with and support me through all the things that suck about diabetes. And that’s just it. Living with diabetes sucks. My body seems to be getting more sensitive to pain as I get older. Sometimes my insulin doesn’t work. My fingertips are also more sensitive, especially my right pointer finger. Rubbing any slightly rough material is really uncomfortable. My feet are almost always cold. Sometimes I have to eat glucose tablets at the gym because I calculated something wrong. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and realize I woke up because my blood sugar level is plummeting and then I have to eat glucose tablets while I lay sweating in bed trying to stay awake until I feel better. I could go on (and on and on…).

I’m pretty good at staying positive and I’m thankful for that particular personality trait. Making art about diabetes has been such a rewarding creative outlet and I truly believe it changed my life. I continue to feel called to make this work and I hope I can do great things with it (I have plans!).

Anyway, I hope that you spend time this month (even just a few minutes!) learning about the various types of diabetes and what it means to live with this disease. Learn what the symptoms are and share this information with your loved ones. I was three years old when I was diagnosed and I couldn’t describe what I was feeling, but my dad was observant and noticed my symptoms. My oldest sister was diagnosed later the same year and she was able to describe what I was going through to my parents because she was going through the same things. Now that I’m older, I am now incredibly grateful for that.

There are many blogs and other resources that cover this topic. Here are some great websites and articles to get you started:

International Diabetes Federation

The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes

A Cartoonist Laughs at Diabetes, and Her Book Will Make You Laugh Too

T1 Diabetes is Complicated…Even for Doctors

Don’t Judge People with Type 2 Diabetes

In Praise of Diabetes Unawareness

Type 1 Diabetes Finally Explained

The Invisibility of Type 1 Diabetes

Thank you so much for reading. Stay tuned for a peek into the things I’ve been making this fall! xoxo

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The Gallery U | Fall 2015

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Last winter/spring, I did an online internship with The Gallery U, a web-based gallery founded by Marcie Browne. The gallery is full of inspiring work by talented college students from across the U.S. and I’m happy to be participating again this fall. Below are links to my posts from each week. We are currently finishing week 11 (time is flying!). Enjoy :)

Week 1: Self-Portrait
Week 2: Process (After Lucier)
Week 3: Color Studies (Cells)
Week 4: Untitled (Mechanical)
Week 5: Color Studies (Blobs/Blocks)
Week 6: Blind Portrait Series
Week 7: Color Study (Red Drop)
Week 8: Body
Week 9: Untitled (Spacey)
Week 10: Untitled (Hover)
Week 11: Self-Destruct

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Learning to Sew

 

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I’ve been attracted to thread and embroidery for a long time, but I’ve never quite committed to learning how to use thread the way I want. Instead, I’ve mostly just been collecting images of work that inspires me. I like the idea of embroidery or stitches as evidence of a needle. You can no longer see the needle, but you can see where it has been.

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This past summer in Chicago, I decided to check out a sewing machine and just play with it. I also did a tiny bit of sewing by hand.

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Most of the messy lines were unintentional results of me playing with the sewing machine settings, but I’m happy that they turned out this way.

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I hope to incorporate thread into my work even more over the next year. Thanks for visiting!

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Warming Up

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During my second summer in Chicago, I spent the first few creative moments in my new studio drawing fingers. I drew them in continuous lines, as severed tips, with my eyes closed, with my head laying on the table, from right to left and left to right, slowly, quickly, and with a variety of pens.

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These playful drawings set the tone for the rest of the work I created this summer. More to come soon!

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