Here’s part IV of my story with colitis, a bit more focus on the art…
My other theme of “spinning” was based on a prose poem I wrote my sophomore year titled “Manifesto on Spinning” that began with “Around and around and around she goes, where she stops, nobody knows”. I think this was based more on a feeling I had of wanting control over things (my body, my illness, my life) but not being able to take control and feeling like I was spinning while, at the same time, enjoying the feeling of spinning because when you’re spinning you don’t have to think so much because everything is just whirling around. My favorite ride at Six Flags was the Typhoon Lagoon which consisted of a cylindrical room: you stand against the wall, the room begins to spin and the centrifugal force holds you against the wall as the floor drops from under you. For me this was always such a soothing feeling.
By my senior year, I had finished folding my 1000 cranes and held a solo art show called “A Shrine to My Colon,” which was just that. The walls were lined in gold spray-painted panels that I had silk screened with my medical files. The centerpiece was a huge 6×8 foot wooden, framed construction of a painting of my colon, adorned with gold spray-painted enemas around the outer edge of the frame, emptied but unused (I strongly disliked using enemas. I believe my preference is not an anomaly). Sketchbooks and artwork about my colon covered the walls, and 100 beautifully constructed beaded chains of origami cranes (totaling 1000 cranes) hung from the ceiling. I spent a week in that room setting up the show. It was up for a day and I had to take it down the following day. For me the show was not about the finished product but the process of healing myself. The large framed painting of my colon was done entirely using my own hands and fingertips (no paintbrushes). I imagined caressing my own colon, curing it with love and healing from my own hands. I know to some this may sound crazy, but it was helpful for me. It gave me a sense of purpose and a mission and, most importantly, a sense of control over this illness that no one seems to have a good grasp on.
If you want the full story, starting at the beginning, just go back to Part I.