For this project I have explored the symptoms of Fibromyalgia while displaying them externally out of the body. I have worked across an array of different mediums and processes, most prominently drawing and embroidery, all of which reflected the symptoms even only subtlety. By showing the internal battles which Fibromyalgia sufferers face, the viewer is able to connect, even if only slightly, to certain aspects. This connection is what makes the pieces I have made so powerful, enforced by my own personal approach to this project.
I began my project by first refreshing myself with the symptoms a Fibromyalgia sufferer feels, most of which I am able to give first hand experience from. I gathered this information in a way I could use by brainstorming myself a mind map, and gathering information that I already had about significant artists. My list of significant artist’s included Frida Kahlo, who’s often assumed to have suffered with Fibromyalgia due to her ‘The Broken Column’ painting, Tracey Emin, for her confessional works, Jenny Saville, for her raw imagery which masked nothing, and Hans Bellmer, who made a series of photographs of a fellow artist tied up uncomfortably in wire, which I felt a great connection for the unease caused by the wire. Whilst in this stage I also took notes on which body parts and symptoms to focus on for this project, limiting myself in order to not run over time.
After creating a series of sketches and 3 canvas’ of work, I was encouraged to continue with using sketches as the basis for my work as they gave the piece a much more personal feel, reflecting the actual embodiment of Fibromyalgia being a personal thing. I focused on depicting the pain, depression and exhaustion of having Fibromyalgia by sketching, stitching, printing and painting on different materials, including card, felt, sketch paper and canvas fabric. My subjects included the hands, skull, hips, ribs, spine and more. I created works with darker meanings behind the simplistic style, from which I was encouraged to research Raymond Pettibon, who also is known for creating simplistic works with darker meanings behind the imagery. An example of these deeper meanings in my work include the simplistic drawing of a hand with the bones stitched. Whilst looking unremarkable it can be taken into account the motion of a needle going through the hand to create the stitch, allowing a darker image to come to mind of the viewer.
For my final piece I collected a range of my imagery, being sure to choose a wide selection of subjects so as not to repeat myself too often. I then collaged the pieces together, cutting some where needs be, to create a chaotic look, reflecting the mind set of a Fibromyalgia sufferer. I made sure to connect to a modern art history reference through my embroidery. I chose Louise Bourgeois for my art reference, because I felt an empathy towards her need to ‘fix’ things by embroidery, I used this idea a numerous times in my own work.