Surgery Redefined My Perspective on Art

I recently shared more about why having a life changing pelvic floor reconstructive surgery from injuries I sustained from a sexual assault in Calgary, Alberta at 19 years old shaped me as an artist. Firstly, the damage the assault did to my mental health was tragic. I learned very quickly how to supress that memory only to have it triggered at age 27 when I was in a consultation with a pelvic floor specialist in Vancouver who discovered my internal wounds. I had pushed the memory of the assault down so deep that I didn’t even remember what had happened to me. I just knew I had a lot of pain and something was off with my body. Then, after that doctor appointment, like a flood after no rain, it all came back to me in one afternoon. It was as though I was back in that room again, 19 but now 27 dealing and trying to make sense of for the first time with what really happened to me. Then there was the physical toll that it took on my organs in my body. However, all of this pain opened up a door to a place I was able to now access in order to bring light to my own darkness. This started to happen through art and creativity, I had a positive place to put all this negative emotion.

During my career as a pyrotechnic performance artist I was pulling heavily from the chronic pain I was enduring from the years after the assault. Often times before I would go onstage I would be bleeding internally and just have to suffer though it because show dates don’t work around your chronic pain management. Screaming my songs really helped with that! This is also why industrial music was an easy place for me to hide what I was really going through. It’s protocol to be intense, angry and screaming in that genre. However, I couldn’t live in that head space forever.

I knew I needed to eventually have surgery to correct the damage that was done but I got so used to being on constant pain that it became a pain I was now used to. It was hard to let go of what my new normal had become despite how destructive it was. However, the constant reminder of my limited physical abilities due to daily inflammation was becoming debilitating at times and that was not a life I wanted continue living in this life I’ve been given.

Going in for surgery 15 years post injury was very intense and brought up a lot of old triggers, trauma, and flashbacks to the event. Luckily, with a lot of therapy and time to physically heal (2 years) I was able to still complete the “What is a Woman” art exhibition throughout this time of recovery. Surgery completely shaped my direction for this show artistically. I felt during this process that as much as I was bleeding so where these pieces. These pieces where bleeding out of me emotionally and ended up being painted on my metal canvas. Each piece for me was symbol of all my internal female body parts that I was now questioning after having to go through my most intimate female organs being reconstructed by an amazing medical team in Montreal.

I will share with you the main question to myself throughout this exhibition and still is one I ask myself daily…

How is there still so much gender violence against Women when everyone comes from one? How is it possible that in modern times, we are still repressed, oppressed and our bodies disregarded by government, business, and economic systems at large?

This leads me to even more questions…

How are we reduced to body parts vs ways in which we contribute to society emotionally, spiritually and mentally? We are wired so uniquely from Men, why are those differences belittled, made fun of and not championed? Why are Men not actively taking notes and learning from Women in order to act as our allies vs enemy?

View the full abstract art exhibition “What is a Woman…?” here

Leave a comment below or send me a direct message for more information on this piece.

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