Category Archives: Art

Opening Up – Illness, Trauma and Transformation Through Art

Finding meaning and purpose amidst pain, tragedy and loss.

I am an artist and I suffer from Crohn’s Disease; a gastrointestinal disorder. This has resulted in six abdominal surgeries, as well as, the removal of my colon and part of my small intestine. The disease has caused a lifetime of pain and suffering. Art has provided me with the tools to transform that pain and anguish into beauty and healing. Line and color provide a conduit through which I can reach into the deepest part of myself and share the treasures that lie within.

This has been a war — the life or death battles, the inability to process emotion while trying to simply survive — but it is not the war we see on TV, online or in print. It is a much more familiar war, one that takes place in the human heart as we struggle to find meaning and purpose amidst pain, tragedy and loss.

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This painting is called Opening Up. It represents a moment in time during the process of transformation. The figure in the painting is exposing himself, opening up his wound and finding beauty and treasure where there had once been pain and agony. He is opening himself up now, whereas in the past he had been opened by others. He is still too vulnerable to look at the viewer, so he looks away as he exposes himself. He wears a mask and a full body suit as an added layer of protection, to boost personal power and offset trauma.

I was first hospitalized in the mid ‘70s, around the age of five. It was a horrifying experience; both because of the procedures I went through and because of the way they were handled by the people who performed them. I felt dehumanized during this experience, because I always knew that if they saw me on a human level, at the level of their heart, they would have handled things differently. Instead, they taped me up, tied me down, and shoved a tube down my throat, leaving me defenseless and completely vulnerable. This was the first in a relentless series of traumas, physical and emotional, medical and otherwise, which still haunt me today.

Trauma occurs when the amount of emotional energy, which is generated from an event, exceeds the amount that is discharged afterward. As a five year old, I did not know what trauma was or what to do with these feelings. Something inside of me did, though, and it ignited a quest to find a way to process what happened and find peace again.

Trauma occurs when the amount of emotional energy, which is generated from an event, exceeds the amount that is discharged afterward.

I decided early on that after everything I had gone through and everything I had to deal with on a daily basis, I refused to be unhappy. After all of the pain and suffering, shame, fear and humiliation, insane choices regarding treatment options and the innumerable challenges I faced, I was determined to make it all mean something. Painting is that something.

I see feelings as images. Before I started painting, I spent a lot of time trying to explain to people (friends, family, therapists) what I was seeing in order to get them to understand what was happening inside of me. That never worked all that well. Eventually I turned to filmmaking. I received a degree in film from UC Berkeley and won a few awards along the way. Though I still love making films, painting has given me a level of artistic satisfaction I had never experienced before.

Several years ago, I experienced a major flare-up of my Crohn’s Disease. My doctors couldn’t explain what or why this was happening and I knew that this was something beyond their scope of treatment. The symptoms were not unfamiliar: diarrhea, spasming in my throat and stomach, piercing headaches, back pains, nausea and fatigue. I started to sketch to express myself and to be able to show some of the people close to me these visions that I had been trying to describe in words for all of these years.

During that time, as difficult and painful as it was, I discovered something wonderful; I drew and I painted and I felt better. Spasms and pain would ease and I was releasing some of the emotional energy that I had held within for so many years. I discovered that I had the ability to portray emotions I had once believed I was all alone with and that people who saw my work, whatever their circumstances, were moved by it. Perhaps most importantly, I could draw and paint for hours on end and I always felt better when I did; I had found my calling.

The piece above was originally published on The Huffington Post

Also posted in Biographical, Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, Featured, Health, Inspiring, PTSD, Writing Tagged , , |

The Patient-Artist Experience @ Misericordia University

"Faces and Traces" by Artist Daniel Leighton

“Faces and Traces” by Artist Daniel Leighton

Duration: Academic year Fall 2019-Spring 2020

Exhibition period: 8/26/2019  to 5/31/2020

Location: Misericordia University, Trocaire Building lobby and other public spaces. Available for view during building normal operating hours (~8am-~8pm)

Co-curated with California-based artist and patient advocate Ted Meyer, this exhibit features artists whose work stems from their experiences as patients. These paintings, prints, and photographs will be on display in the lobby and public areas of the Trocaire Building for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Objective

To infuse the creative arts into the daily experience of students in the College of Health Sciences and Education through exhibition and curriculum integration. To provide creative artists with health challenges or disabilities with opportunities to present their work to new audiences as both art objects and autobiographical artistic narratives. 

Underlying themes

  • How health issues and limitations propel creativity and artistic pursuit
  • How healthcare professionals can broaden their ideas of who their patients and patient caregivers are by encouraging creativity and personal expression

Artists

Also posted in Exhibitions

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Augmented Reality & Digital Art – Art Talk and Closing Reception

Augmented Reality & Digital Art - Art Talk and Closing Reception

Augmented Reality & Digital Art – Art Talk and Closing Reception

RSVP HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/augmented-reality-digital-art-art-talk-and-closing-reception-tickets-52946439225

OR HERE: https://www.facebook.com/events/518140302031905/

Join Jayne Behman and Daniel Leighton at LACDA on Saturday December 1st from 2-5pm for the closing reception and art talk for the “Electric Abstractions” exhibit that has travelled from the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The art talk begins at 3pm and will be moderated by LA Weekly’s Arts Editor Shana Nys Dambrot.

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, “LACDA”, presents “Electric Abstractions”, a traveling exhibition from the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, “SLOMA”, featuring the works of Daniel Leighton and Jayne Behman. They are both California contemporary artists who use technology to create their work.

Daniel Leighton is an Augmented Reality pioneer. His Augmented Reality iPad paintings focus on the importance of identifying, expressing and acknowledging emotions. He creates emotional portraits with simple lines and brilliant colors to capture complex states of the human psyche, while exploring the possibilities of technology and human emotion being harnessed for the greater good. Leighton adds Augmented Reality (AR) to his paintings by combining his backgrounds in filmmaking and computer programming. Using the Daniel Leighton Art + AR app, viewers can experience additional dimensions of Daniel’s AR-enhanced paintings.

Jayne Behman substituted her brick and mortar studio with her iPad years ago to be able to create anywhere, anytime; without borders. It is on the technology “canvas” that she processes her Marks. Using a combination of Apps her paintings reflect her vision of a world reacting to change. Also, she just has some fun, seen in her banners and videos.

Today works of art that are created using Technology are being embraced in the Art world as Fine Art. They are defining this time in history. Digital art, like any other art can evoke feelings, and bring about a connection to this world.

The Los Angeles Center For Digital Art is dedicated to the propagation of all forms of digital art, new media, digital video art, net art, digital sculpture, interactive multimedia, and the vast panorama of hybrid forms of art and technology that constitute our moment in culture. Digital art defines the contemporary. They are committed to supporting local, international, emerging and established artists through exposure in our gallery. They have an ongoing schedule of exhibits and competitions, produce editions of wide format archival prints, and collaborate in the production of digital artworks in our studio. The are also involved with curating digital exhibits at institutions and festivals outside of the LACDA gallery schedule. LACDA has been supporting and exhibiting artists who use technology since 2004.

Where:
LACDA
Located in the Gallery Row area of
Downtown Los Angeles
104 E. 4th St. Los Angeles 90013
between Main and Los Angeles Streets

When:
Dec 1st 2pm-5pm Art talk is at 3pm

For more information go to:
http://www.lacda.com
http://danielleighton.com
http://jaynebehman.com
http://www.sloma.org

Also posted in Augmented Reality, Filmmakers/Filmmaking Tagged , |