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As a portrait artist, I use the language of art as a means of initiating communication; my subject becomes my partner in conversation. In this series, however, I have become my own subject, exploring how my identity has been altered by life with chronic migraine.


To be clear, migraine is a neurological disease, one that is debilitating and painfully real. Yet it is frequently referred to as an “invisible illness,” as there are often no visible symptoms. Women in particular are subject to dismissive treatment because of this, as I have experienced first hand. Over the past 14 years, I have endured discrimination, harassment, broken relationships, strained friendships, and unemployment due to migraine. I have fought with determination to regain normalcy and hope in my life, but the demands of working as a teacher during Covid-19 brought my disease back into a sharp and painful focus. Rather than structuring my life to work around or in spite of chronic migraine, I have chosen instead to examine my relationship to migraine. Creating these drawings is a visceral process of acknowledging the larger than life physical and emotional pain that migraine has caused in my life - as well as the emotional and physical growth it has helped me accomplish. I am ultimately a stronger person as I emerge on the other side of chronic migraine, cherishing every moment and delighting in our capacity as humans to overcome and endure.


I use portraiture as a vehicle for storytelling, recreating the essence of memories in color, light, and texture. These works merge autobiographical experiences with imagery and text laden with both historical and personal value. Each of these images captures a real, private moment that I have in fact experienced - from hiding under blankets to wearing hand-made ‘migraine boxes’. By making visible the invisible trauma of migraine, I aim to bring awareness to this consistently under-funded, chronically misunderstood disease.

To hear more about my personal story, watch my video, Making the Invisible, Visible.


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