Some documentation from this semester…
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
Below are detail photos of some of my favorite results:
Thanks for reading and looking. Please share if you like what you see! xoxo
Last semester was intense. Along with working a couple part-time jobs and working on side projects, I took my first online MFA class and attempted to maintain a regular studio practice for school. Read more
I painted on Yupo paper for the first time when I was in middle school and I thought it was such a cool surface to work with. I didn’t use it again until recently when I was in Chicago. I was shopping around for a variety of surfaces to experiment on and I was immediately drawn to the Yupo paper. You can get some really cool effects on this non-absorbent surface. I plan on doing a lot more work with it.
During my first residency in Chicago, sugar became an important material for me. In week 2, I was thinking about sugar a lot. I thought about going to birthday parties as a child and not being able to eat the birthday cake. I thought about the countless times people have said to me, “You can’t have sugar, right?” I thought about my struggles with my weight, especially in high school. The nice thing about being in grad school is that I was surrounded by other artists who I could discuss my thoughts with.
Like I said in my last post, a colleague suggested that I actually use sugar as a material in my artwork. The thought fascinated me and I was eager to try it out. The first thing I did was research sugar skulls. I knew that sugar skulls are pretty sturdy and last a long time when made correctly so I looked for a recipe and then bought the ingredients. I wanted to make insulin vials out of sugar, but first I needed a mold. I bought moldable plastic on amazon and that worked well, but my final mini sculptures weren’t as clean as I wanted them to be and they broke easily. I didn’t make any more of them because of time limitations, but now that I’m home I plan on experimenting to find a better method/sugar mixture.
I also tried painting with sugar and I was much more satisfied with these results. I mixed sugar and water on a stove until the consistency was gel-like and then I mixed some with acrylic gel medium and sometimes acrylic paint and I left the rest plain. I applied the sugar mixtures on Yupo paper in a variety of ways:
Later on, I made more sugar mixtures and applied them onto unstretched canvas in several layers. This one also has food coloring in it.
My favorite part about this piece was watching the sugar crack and fall off, revealing this crystal texture underneath:
I also painted a long piece of black canvas with sugar. Here’s part of it:
I made a few more pieces on Yupo paper and watercolor paper and even added a few drops of blood to the sugar. Get it? Bloodsugar?
I plan on continuing to experiment with sugar in my work because whether the results are good or not, I really enjoy the process. In my next post, I’ll talk about another non-traditional material that I worked with. Thanks for reading!