CALL FOR ACTION
This project began after my first flash back. As a PTSD survivor sometimes the most important thing that can be given is a safe and timeless space to speak. The interaction between the speaker and the listener is the art, the sculpture from what the participants make with their cups is the work.
TALKING IN CIRCLES
Art + Work = Visual Representation
The “Call to Action'' is sent out for people to participate in a conversation about their personal traumas. We schedule a time to meet to speak with me about any type of trauma they have experienced; there is no trauma too small or too large. Participants are free to express issues with racial discrimination and injustices, sexual assault, physical abuse, war vets, or even frontline health workers during COVD. This is over skype, zoom, or outside social distancing. I give the person any and all space they need to speak, the entire focus is on them. I may gently inquire if they wish to give details, these questions are an opportunity to share, not provoke. Sometimes participants come with letters, poems, journal entries, or they literally just need to talk until they run out of things to say. I only share with them information from my own life if I know it would give them reassurance or if they ask me directly.
I make sure that the participant gets 99% of control in the situation. They choose the time, location, beverage, because in most cases the victim’s choice is taken from them. It is extremely important to acknowledge autonomy, this empowers the participant to use their voice.
The one prerequisite I insist on is that we are each drinking from some kind of cup. This cup (mug, glass, pint) must be something the participant is willing to part with, as it will become part of the installation. During conversation the cup can be filled with whatever liquid they choose. From personal experience whenever there is an opportunity to speak about trauma, water or beverages is involved in some shape or fashion. Whether that means we are seated near a body of water, tears are shed from the tales we finally get to speak, or just a conversation over coffee. The liquid inside of the cup can be a metaphor of our emotions that we have a tendency to swallow and bare down with on a day to day basis. When we hold our emotions, we hold our breath which can take hold of our lives. The cylindrical figures may represent a vessel of their own soul, a vessel of whomever wronged them, or simply just a cup to share tragedies with safe friends.
Once the conversation is done, the item they were drinking from gets hung on the metal spiral sculpture. The participant gets to paint, shape, break, draw, rip, drip, glue, or blob on their cup however they see fit. It is an artistic therapeutic approach to illustrate what was discussed. They may sign their name on the cup if they wish, or they may leave it anonymous.
I am collaborating with a local artist and welder, Sam Sykes, to create sculptural armature that will display these collective experiences. The sculpture serves as an acknowledgement to all those who have shared their stories with me. This collaboration with the public is intimate and personalized, and the feedback I have been receiving is consistent, “I am just so glad to know I am not alone.” Personally, a fear with PTSD is that, “No one will get it. Who will understand? Yea they say they get it, but do they really?” This sculpture is a visual representation that we are all in this together, no matter how small or large the trauma.
At the end of a hard day, you can find yourself talking in circles over a situation that should have ended better. This installation is an opportunity to share your truth and give courage for others to speak up. We do not have to be licensed therapists to know that people can benefit from art in a therapeutic manner.