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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.

 

Migraine Do's and Dont's
Migraine Do's and Dont's

Charcoal and pastel on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Peas and Thank You
Peas and Thank You

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Peas and Thank You, Detail
Peas and Thank You, Detail

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Splitting Headache
Splitting Headache

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Under the Covers
Under the Covers

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Migraine in Progress
Migraine in Progress

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Time Passing By
Time Passing By

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Time Passing By, Detail
Time Passing By, Detail

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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Compendium of Pain
Compendium of Pain

Mixed Media, 20" x 16", 2019

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On a Zoom Call
On a Zoom Call

Charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 2021

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The Things I Can't Enjoy
The Things I Can't Enjoy

Mixed Media, 8" x 8", 2019

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Under the Covers
Under the Covers

Mixed Media, 18" x 24", 2019

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Hanging on by a Thread
Hanging on by a Thread

China marker on glassine paper, thread, 38" x 50", 2021

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Hanging on by a Thread, Detail
Hanging on by a Thread, Detail

China marker on glassine paper, thread, 38" x 50", 2021

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The Migraine Journal
The Migraine Journal

Mixed Media, 18" x 24", 2019

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The Chaos of Pain
The Chaos of Pain

Monoprint, charcoal on paper, 9" x 12", 2020

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