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“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”
I couldn’t have said it any better than when Augustus Waters quoted Hazel Grace’s beloved book in one of my novel-turned-movie classics, The Fault in Our Stars.
As of late, pain has filled me and twisted me inside out to the point where I was numb for days and couldn’t think of anything else. It seemed as if there could’ve been a small beacon of hope or light, in the end, but I just couldn’t see it.
There are different categories of pain, all varying in strength levels. I like to see the pain in three categories; love pain, friends/family pain, and self-pain. Most recently, I’ve experienced the love pain and for me, this is the pain that hurts the most. Especially when the love pain comes from someone you’ve poured yourself into and spent eight months waiting for it all to be reciprocated, as if all of his feelings were being held back by a dam, and one day (maybe the day he appears at your door at seven PM and invites himself into your room to tell you he had a girlfriend all along) his dam will burst and the lands will flood with the waters of his love.
But that day will never come.
As an artist, I have found that my only way to heal is through creating. Through poetry, photography, and painting, I am able to see my heart on the page. With that, I can begin to heal. I’ve written through tears and photographed through anger. It’s how I’m wired and how I process life. Art school forces you to be this way, often pushing you to face what’s been repressed. I’m not much of a talker, so my art speaks for me. I’ve created projects about what I feel deeply and my views on the world, and whether they align with the rest of the world...well, that’s up to the rest of the world. I don’t create art for validation or acceptance, rather I create to let go.
I’ve let go of the weight having anxiety and depression brings. I’ve let go of the hurt racism has brought to my college years, as well as to society. I’ve let go of the fear brought by a president who thrives off of hatred. Currently, I’m letting go of the uneasiness associated with talking about menstruation and womanhood. Through a photographic series, I will share the stories of women in my local community as they navigate their body’s natural functions and the stigma that comes along with it. The project will include photos, video, and personal writings—which is a huge step for me as I’ve never created a multimedia project before. With this project, I will not only be exploring the truths of other women, but I will be finding my own.
Talking about periods always embarrassed me. I never wanted anyone to know what was happening with my body. It used to be something disgusting. I never wanted to talk about my mental health. That too used to be something disgusting. I used to think, “I don’t want my friends to worry. I don’t want to bring them down.” I used to think that because I was a light-skinned African American female that no one would care about what I would have to say when trying to cope with racism. But art has given me a platform to raise my voice on the issues I used to think I didn’t deserve to talk about.
There will never be a point in my life where I stop talking about the things that matter the most to me. Frankly, my greatest fear as an artist is that some company will come along, admire my work, but tell me to strip my identity from it. Yet, while it is my fear, it motivates me to stay true to myself, to create these socially aware projects, and break down the barriers society places in front of us. With my art, I confront the things people shy away from. I expose the truth. The day I stop exposing the truth and fall into the systematic process of creating art and censoring my voice will be the day I will have lost myself as an artist.