We Are Multidimensional - HeartSprings Community Healing Center (2014)
We Are Multidimensional is aimed at creating art work that can engage and create understanding in an able bodied public about what it means to have an altered body and life. The intention is to communicate the experience of those living with Traumatic Brain Injuries in both a physical, tactile way and a symbolic, emotional way using art as the connecting language. Art will be used tometaphorical demonstrate parts of the TBI experience to encourage the audience towards a multidimensional and complex read. The hope of the work is to replace tendencies in some audiences towards ignoring or pitying those with TBIs and replace it with awareness and esteem. There are around 13,000 TBI survivors currently living in North Dakota. TBIs are caused by a range of events, anything from falling or car accidents to domestic physical assault to war traumas. TBIs alter the lives of survivors and their families irrevocably, leaving a range of impairments, cognitive, emotional, physical, mental, in their wake. How can TBI survivors maintain a sense of dignity and value amidst such a major life interruption? How can they continue to be seen and understood despite the fact that their impairments are often invisible, the impact hidden deep inside their brains?
How can TBI survivors, like Cancer survivors, Alzheimer’s patients or those living with MS find ways for ongoing connection to their altered bodies, relationships and lives? How can their suffering and hardship be eased? The simple, complex and all‐encompassing answer is: art. Art gives body and voice wherever lost. The visual language of art can communicate with everyone. For art makers, many things can be reclaimed such as a loss of freedom, selfunderstanding, ease and meaning. Art provides a way back to integrity and value in what remains. And what remains is vast, deep and multidimensional. When the body is interrupted and therefore life is interrupted, survivors can be plunged into experiences they would have never had access to before. Art can help TBI survivors find the “exquisiteness” that remains despite the interruption.
I taught and facilitated five workshops to support Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) survivors in visually creating and telling their stories using artistic mediums. Even though mulitiple themes emerged the focus remained on the multidimensionality and complexity of the TBI experience. The following mediums were explored: Photography, sculpture, poetry and journaling. The workshops will culminate in an exhibition called, We Are Multidimensional: Life with TBI. The exhibition will be shown at the 2015 legislative session to foster understanding as well as to build critical support, awareness, and resources for the 13,000 TBI survivors currently living in the state of North Dakota. A warm thank you to the other artists who helped teach art studios: McCal Johnson and Carol Morken as well as to Jan Nelson, Executive Director of HeartSprings.
The We Are Multidimensional workshops and parallel art studio programming were made possible through a City Arts Partnership Project Grant from The Arts Partnership, the Center for Rural Health (TBI division), and the North Dakota Department of Human Services.