What started out as something like just a compliance to fulfilling coursework for a course on Addiction turned into an adventure in discovery, interaction and personal healing. My father died in the middle of this past semester, just when I was about to start the project of pasting pictures to 6 x 8 cards.
At first I had imagined this project as only maybe 5 cards, with pictures of tattoos that ex-cons had made while serving prison time. In itself it was an interesting idea involving a pretty intimate interaction with a rather intimidating population.
I did these pictures and filled in a couple of cards with these pictorial life stories made with an illicitly made tattoo machine (bic pen, needle, CD player motor and a battery!). Then my life took a sharp left turn. Things went quite disorganized and I experienced grief, and the card making turned into an unexpected source for processing it.
I found pictures of my father, from his childhood to his death, and I put them together, giving it space on paper and even more: much needed space in my heart.
After that the flow just kind of took off. I got excited about what else I could put out like that. Cards started flying: my past, experiences, people I loved, a card on Man, one on Women; One just for addiction, another for boundaries…like that.
Presenting these cards to others during the exhibition just deepened it all. Each step had that taste of a new level of exposure and of course felt risky in a healthy way. And with it came a deeper level of healing.
I’m learning, at ever deeper levels, that taking these ‘risks’ of exposure does that.
by Nirodha Stearns (MA PSY ’13) of Santa Fe, New Mexico.