Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ninth Volley

I entered a show. Wish me luck. This piece is about my sister.

A little back story: Two and a half years ago, my younger sister died. She had lupus. Her kidneys went out, and then she was in and out of the hospital for three years. I remember her telling me about how she had really bad headaches. How she was terrified because she didn't know what they were from and why she kept getting them. She was taken to the hospital one night because her blood pressure was 200/190 She was blind in one eye because grease and humors had spilled into it due to her blood pressure being so extreme. She had to go for dialysis three times a week, and she was always sick and tired afterwards. She had a restricted diet. Eating a banana would have made her heart explode.

On Thanksgiving of that year she got an infection in the lining of her heart as her dialysis port ran from the hollow above her clavicle to her heart, or some of the vessels connecting to it. She gained weight from retaining fluids. She got a fancy pouch put in her belly and could do dialysis at home, every night. It was the equivalent of drinking a two liter bottle of soda all at once and carrying it around with you all day, she once told me.

She got married. To a man who was a match for her kidneys and agreed to be a donor. Then he backed out, and from what I've heard second and third hand, was a real shit. They fell out and she lived with my mom. Her stomach pouch kept getting infected. She was in a lot of pain. She had seizures. She had to wear a mask whenever she was in public because her immune system was beyond broken. She was so sick.

The last year and half of her life was spent in the hospital more than at home. She developed vasculits. Her fingers on both hands turned necrotic and started rotting away. She lost her hair. She developed calciphylaxis. Large patches of skin on her legs started rotting away. She was in constant pain. Her arms and legs atrophied and her skin hung off of her like a sack. The doctors gave her dilaudid. This built up in her system.

The last ten days of her life, she did not eat. My mom was in the room with her, watching tv, and thinking that she was going to sleep when in fact her body was shutting down. The staff brought in a crash cart and tried to bring her back, but my mother refused. She made the right choice.

When she was first diagnosed, the doctors and psychologists and whoever else looked at her also diagnosed her with severe clinical depression and PTSD. When I asked her how she was doing, she kept telling me she was ready to pull the plug. We tried to cheer her up. When she was married it was the happiest I'd ever seen her outside of when she was a child. Towards the end she was in so much pain she wanted to die. My mother wanted her to live, and what mother doesn't really?

So this piece is about her choice to end her suffering, and her inability to do so. And other things. A promise never to forget her, and a reaffirming of that promise. I'm doing my best not to get all emo-ey on you. So we'll leave it at that. This is an art blog first and foremost. You've gotten the back story, and I've grieved, and am still grieving. Sigh. It's a pine box, coated in tar, with a hammer, a jar of whiskey with a lock of hair in it, nails, and a candle. It is 51" x 26" x 8". Some details below.

Sometimes I blend my paints with tar. It never ever dries and the second you hit it with anything that has a hint of solvent on it, it softens up and blends it with whatever you are putting on top of it, making a sickly color.

Here's another shot. The candles on my pieces, to the ire of Fire Marshals everywhere, are meant to be burned. The wax creates a history. And over time, the smoke given off will stain and hide things. I like things that have history to them, whether I'm manufacturing it myself, or looking at dirt on other things, I enjoy imagining the use, or how it's been used. I have a bucket of roofing tar patch that I use. I used to use fancy stuff, printer's asphaltum. But this stuff works just as well, and has texture to it. Because it only gets semi hard/dry, everything sticks to it. My studio, which resides in the living room of my apartment, is cat territory. When I took this out from under its covers, there was a grey coating of cat hair and dander. Some of it from me, most of it from him. I spent a good two hours dusting and hand pulling clumps of hair from the tar. I then lit the candle and burned up the stuff that wouldn't come off. It's good to know that I can clean these pieces without having to recoat them in tar.

Meth-heads used to lived below me. Every night, when they weren't fighting like cats, or fucking noisily, they would commence to remodeling their unit. For hours, from around ten at night to seven in the morning they would hammer tin plates to the walls, build false walls, sand, put in doors and listen to shitty top forty music. This is my contribution to noise making. I hammered each one of these nails (with a sheet of ply wood under neath the piece to protect the floor) directly over their bedroom. It is my understanding that in Fetish Art, the nails are driven in by the people of the village to seal a contract. I treated it as a continuing promise to never forget my sister, and while I'm alive, to not forget that fact, because she wouldn't either.