Thursday, September 01, 2011

Diabetes Art Day 2011

This post is late, even though I submitted my art yesterday. I wanted to post last night, but by the time I finished my submission it was after 11pm and I knew I had a long day ahead of me. We had an event today & it was a busy day. In fact, I haven't been home very long, but there was no way I was going to bed without posting about Diabetes Art Day 2011.

Diabetes Art Day is the brain child of an amazing woman named Lee Ann Thill. This fabulous project began last year. I missed out last year because I hadn't yet found all the wonderful people in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) yet. This year I was determined to participate.

I saved as many different diabetes related supplies that I could. Thinking that I would use them in my artwork. As it turns out, I fell back on what has always inspired me and moved me the most, words. Whether they are the words read in a book or poem, or the words sung in a song, or even the words spoken in a movie or play. They have all been important to me my whole life. But how could I make them a visual art form?

I briefly thought of writing a poem, but quickly thrust that aside when the words in my head refused to unjumble themselves into coherent thoughts. I also wanted to do something with colour and impact. Black words on a white background seemed too stark. Too well, black and white. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING about diabetes is black and white. Hell it's not even shades of gray.

There are more colours than a rainbow can hold representing diabetes. There is the red in the blood I use to check my blood glucose multiple times a day. The deeper shade of red that is my blood drawn every few months for the endless lab work needed. The purple of my blood glucose meter. The two-tone blue test strips. The gray and blue pens that hold the two different kinds of insulin that I inject daily. The lighter blue of the World Diabetes Day logo sponsored by the International Diabetes Foundation that reminds me that I'm not alone and diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. The lavender paper I peel off of the sterile needles I attach to my insulin pens. The orange caps on the syringes I used to use. The black bottle my test strips come in. The multi-hued pills, glucotabs, and juices that I use to regulate my blood glucose and the other ailments that ran in through the door that diabetes left open.

And then there are the seemingly non-diabetes related colours that are essential in my own diabetes management. The rose of my phone that keeps me in contact with my doctors and allows me to vent/share on Facebook or Twitter. The pink of my Sony eReader and my Sansa Fuze that help keep me sane on days when diabetes is determined to do otherwise. The green bag of the sugar-free Wint-O-Green Lifesavers that make me smile.

These and many more are the colours of my diabetes management. And somehow my art needed to express that. But how? So I opened my favorite "painting" program and started adding colours. I have to tell you, it was a mess. Too chaotic even though diabetes can definitely be that. Then I thought what is the good of digital art if you can't manipulate it and even coax it into what you want it to be. So I took a thin strip out of the middle of the colour chaos I had created and stretched it. Suddenly the chaos became something else. Something almost calm and soothing.

Then I began to list the words associated with diabetes for me. The good and the bad. I began to see what resembled a circle emerging and that made sense to me. I chose the colours because purple is my favorite colour and while some of these things are not my favorites, they are important and they are a part of me.

After placing the newly made diabetes word cloud on the background I'd made I realized there were many shades of purple in that as well. I think that makes it even more about me. That even by accident I've come full circle back to something that I love. But there are also many more colours because no one or nothing can be about only one thing. So while diabetes takes up a large part of my life, it isn't all that I'm about. Because just like diabetes, I have more colours than any rainbow can hold.

But purple is still my favorite. :P

Special thanks to Lee Ann Thill for her imagination, cleverness, and willingness to share. Without her there would be no Diabetes Art Day. Please take a moment to look at the other art posted. Thanks!