TAKE CARE features artworks from my series, GOOD BAD POSTURE, as well as more recent works, that map my healing process through chronic pain and trauma from an accident with a semi-truck in 2015. Distilling the human form down to the ligaments and bones, while going through the repetitive motions of physical therapy, I am building layers of paint to write my body’s topography, working each painting as I work my body through a different stage of healing.

The marks I make delineate a space for the collision itself and the PTSD that came with it, the time spent in bed, listening to doctors, in surgery, in bandages and braces, doing exercises and stretches, the metal that is now fused to my cervical spine, and the pain that never really went away. But also a space for the body’s remarkable ability to strengthen, to grow and to heal.

I began this process believing that healing means to be fixed; to be like before; a linear journey from broken to whole. Through my own cyclical process of growth and strain, I know that healing is not an erasure or extraction of what is hurting you, but the creation of spaces for holding that hurt, confronting it, wrestling it and loving yourself through it. These works investigate the liminal space that exists between one’s ability to cope and heal from trauma and one’s ability to accept and transcend pain.

GOOD BAD POSTURE was exhibited at The Front in January 2021. Finally sharing these works was the key missing component in my healing process: communication. While having the space to vulnerably and loudly express the depths of my experience provided me with a sense of closure and acceptance, it did not dead the pain. A year later, I look at my past self and see how she falsely hoped that closure and acceptance would put an end to the nightmare. In reality, there is no end to healing. Chronic. Acceptance is key, but we have to continuously take care of ourselves to remain healed. We also have to ask for what we need.

We live in a world where work is prioritized over body.  People with chronic pain, who are otherwise “healthy” and not qualified for disability, likely have to work full time in order to have high quality health insurance. But what if working full time is not an option for your body? What if you spent years trying to find doctors you trust with your body? And it was taken from you, because you chose your body over capitalism? Where does that leave you in your healing process?

© 2013-2024 Ann Haley.    ︎