This I Believe

Marta - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on September 13, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I Believe in the Power of Creativity to Heal the Soul

I believe in the power that creativity can wield in healing and delivering us from our darkest moments. When I was a teenager, art was among my favorite subjects. At home, I often isolated myself in my room, working until well past midnight on art projects that weren’t even assigned by teachers at school. When I graduated from high school, I was nominated as the “most artistic female” in my graduating class. I was headed to college as a studio art major, but lacking guidance and instruction during the summer between high school and college, I decided I had no talent. Rather than working through the frustrations posed by my creative limitations, I switched majors before my first college semester, lest someone discover how untalented I was. In the end I pursued a career in the social sciences, where the world of reason, logic, and standard deviations caused me to squelch my innermost creative processes.

It is only in the last year, through a painful and emotionally debilitating battle with severe depression, and a life-threatening relapse of childhood anorexia that I have reconnected with my artistic side. In contrast to the earlier artistic obsessions of my high school years, my art has taken a new shape. Gone are the faithful renderings of Van Gogh paintings, reproductions of medieval illuminated letters, and painted replicas of photographed portraits. In their stead, a new form of expression has emerged to reflect the pain, anguish, and journey of self-discovery upon which I have embarked. Using beads, vintage buttons, rhinestones, feathers, unusual fabrics, common objects, and sculptural reproductions of my body I have found my own voice, buried as it was for so long underneath the veneer of strengths, accomplishments, and activities with which I masked my true self. This process has been facilitated by a visionary and highly sensitive guide, who not only fosters and nurtures my artistic expression, but in displaying the outcomes, gives voice to my pain for all who enter her psychotherapy office and home.

At times, re-visiting past trauma and pain has been such an intense experience that– were it not for the art– I might have ended my life by now. But in my worst moments of despair, a little voice always whispers: “Just finish this one project. Just one more…” And no sooner do I complete the work, then another idea suddenly emerges, taunting me with the vision and challenge of expressing myself creatively once more. Like Scheharazade in the Arabian Nights, the creative process has presented me with a reason to live another day, if only to deliver one more piece of art to the growing collection now housed in my therapist’s office.

Anorexia is characterized by the sufferer using her body to express emotional pain and trauma when she feels she will not otherwise be heard. It seems only fitting, then, that my body is at the center of many of my pieces. It is as if I am beginning to realize that I can use my body to transform painful traumatic events and memories into objects of beauty, thus delivering my soul from the torment within and filling the vast emptiness in my heart with a new and longer-lasting light.