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paralyzed freedom

Paralyzed Freedom

            For this self-directed series of three paintings, I decided to draw from a personal experience of being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s Palsy is a condition wherein the half of your face becomes paralyzed. It was not only a painful physical experience, but a painful emotional experience. I was awake when my face began to become paralyzed and I was rushed to the emergency room. I had thought that I had an ear infection for the week leading up to losing movement in my face, but it was no ear infection. My nerve that controlled my facial muscles stopped working. Not only did I feel very alone, but I felt very helpless. This happened to me a week before my first year of University, and I was alone in Vancouver. Not being able to control my face took away my feeling of security. It made me self conscious and sad. I could not smile at new people that I met, I had a hard time talking, and I had other side effects like being tired all the time, and having pain. Bell’s Palsy completely shook up my life, my perception of myself, and how I approached my first year of University. Imagine not being able to smile, and not feeling confident to look at yourself in the mirror.

As time went by, thank God I was able to recover, and as movement slowly came back my relationship to my physical appearance shifted. My identity moved beyond my comfort in my skin, and my body began to feel like exactly that, just a body. I realized that even if my face was not expressing what was inside, it did not mean that I was not expressing myself, or feeling a certain way. In this way, the experience was very liberating. In my three paintings I create a progression of abstraction of a mask like, blown-apart, face to illustrate the process of becoming more aware and proud of my creativity and my identity that goes beyond the physical. I chose to use a contrast of blue cool colors and orange bright colors to convey the energy and experience overall. The first painting is meant to convey more of the initial shock and pain of the experience, with the face beginning to distort itself. Moving into the other paintings, the shapes become more organic, and more abstract, completely filling the boundaries of the canvas. This is meant to illustrate my ownership of my identity, and a returning sense of calm in my life after healing from the experience.