I made the ‘American Shaman’ piece several years ago. I was interested in the idea of shamans from various different cultures and how they often show symptoms of what we in America would classify as Schizophrenia. However, Shamans are important members of many villages helping to find food and cure ailments where as in America someone with those traits would be locked away, having no place or ‘function’ in our world.
Wanting to continue with art in that same vein I made this piece ‘American Woman’. With this work I started considering mental disorders that flourish in our society and not necessarily in others. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorders certainly fit this bill. Sociopaths do crop up in other societies, but no where do they thrive like they do in the competitive capitalist America. I decided to make this piece over BPD however, due to recent personal experiences.
People with BPD thriving in America is merely my own opinion based on relatives I have with this disorder and how I see them being treated by others. BPD is predominantly occupied by women and in America we are all too accepting of the “women are crazy” anecdote. Not to say that because we accept this women become Borderline. What I am saying is that because we accept this many women with this problem do not seek help and instead are accepted as just being that way because they are female.
BPD deals with issues of empathy, unlike sociopaths they do feel for others, just not when they are upset. When they are upset they will kick their children out of the house for little reason, they will try to run their partner with a car, they will try to kill themselves just to make others feel bad, and they will hit kick and scream at anyone who comes near. You might think no one would put up with that so how could that be ‘thriving’ in America. I assure you from personal experience that many people will put up with that, because many believe women just go crazy sometimes. You’ll hear things about these women like “she’s crazy, but it keeps things interesting” or “She’s ok most of the time, she just gets really emotional”. In my experiences they also are usually only hurting those who they are close to, and those people don’t want to turn them into the authorities.
So unlike the people with schizophrenia in our society who are locked up or homeless, people with BPD can go without treatment and be accepted in our society. It’s just interesting that it is the society you live in that determines if you have a function or not. I am not saying that these people do not need help, just that there is a clear difference between how people with certain disorders are treated depending on what society they live in.
I use many symbols on the body of this character to represent BPD based mainly on the DSM-5 and ‘The Science of Evil’ by Simon Baron-Cohen. I tried to show my process in the images above. The background was accomplished by drawing out the pattern I wanted in ink many times with different colors and then spraying water over it. Hope you enjoy!
Sendia is a town I created where I could allow my imagination to run wild. Here are some of the buildings in that town.
The Glimpsy Glance
The one restaurant in town, it has the smell of a small town diner, but little else in common. It is filled with all different kinds of tables and chairs (none matching) including some that look like they were made for dolls. The border along the top of the walls shows numerous black stick figure-like silhouettes actually dancing. There are speakers throughout the restaurant that will play music upon request even though there is no stereo to speak of. The large windows have tinting that is cut into intricate patterns which change depending on who is looking through them. Towards the back there is a door leading to the kitchen which would be a health inspectors nightmare. The sink seems perpetually filled with odd smelling vials and beacons, pots and pans caked with grime, various cooking utensils (some of which look like medieval torture devices), and plates growing a colorful variety of molds. Wafe, the cook, is a chemist who combined his laboratory with the kitchen and sees no problems with mixing deadly chemicals right alongside strange and delicious foods he’s preparing for customers.
The menu for the day is written next t the kitchen door, since the food is free the menu is completely dependent on the cook.
The bar in front of the kitchen is made of a strong glass with rounded edges and dim green rope lights twirled and knotted throughout the inside.
The bathroom in the corner is fairly standard except there is a shark with wide open jaws painted on the urinal and graffiti on all the walls, one of which says “your friend, Jesus.”
Examples of Menu items at the Glimpsy Glance
- Red spotted mushrooms fried in penguin fat
- Mangos with honey
- Baked basilisk legs
- Fried pickles
- Black bird pie
- Plum and dandelion stew
- Honeydew and nectar
- Cucumber sandwiches
- Honey mead and deer jerky
- Peacock pot pie
- Mozzarella sticks
- German stroganoff
- Pesto spinach stuffed tomatoes
- Watermelon steaks
- Zebra Steaks
- Galaxy cupcakes
- Blackberry Ricotta Pizza
- Fried green tomatoes
- Asparagus mushroom pasta
- Creamed spinach and egg pizza
- Hamburger steak with brown gravy
- Really good Ramen
The Library is the oldest building in Sendia. It predates the town itself, as humans gather and settle near water the people of Sendia were drawn to this building. On the outside the structure appears almost impossible with its waves and curves, not a single sharp corner to be seen. Upon entering one might find themselves convinced that this place was not built, but grown. For there are no seams in the woodwork or indications of it being cut. It’s as if the interior were worn down over time to its current state, shelves and tables included. The entire building smells of old books and lavender (Orma claims the lavender helps prevent mold).
Orma Whitefire, the dragon Librarian, Prides herself in her extensive book collection. She claims to have nearly every book ever written, even the ones that have been lost in time. Every few years Orma flies off to find new books to add to her collection. It is rumored that she has burned down many libraries in other lands so that she could take their book collections for herself.
Curl’s Sign Shop
The sign shop is made completely out of green metal street signs with one large metal sign out front that says “Thank you lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine.” Inside this small shop is covered top to bottom with hanging hooks filled with various different signs. The hooks of signs are labeled with their own signs with things like restricting signs, helpful signs, confusing signs, labeling signs, store signs, protest signs, and begging signs. Curl gets very few customers, but she doesn’t seem to mind, she loves her shop and even makes her own signs, though usually just for her own amusement. Sometimes she’ll hang signs up around town, labeling things that no one ever wanted labeled.
Sendia is a town I created where I could allow my imagination to run wild. This is the house I thought of for myself in this town.
The outside of the my house is striped horizontally black and white with a grey roof. The front door is made of glass with fishnet in it. The color of the fishnet starts out as dark purple and fades into neon green and then black at the bottom. On one side of the door there is a small patch of green tulips on the other side there are purple tulips. There are no windows on my house.
The living room
The living room has black wallpaper which you can hardly see any of because it is covered with artwork and photographs I have collected over the years. The carpet is also black. The only light source in this room are 6 large pole lava lamps that go from floor to ceiling (three in 2 corners of the room). There is a corner couch that is green with a round coffee table made out of coffee beans encased in glass. There is a stereo in this room and various albums, books and videogames that were only thought of in another world while here they are real and complete. Sitting on the coffee table is a bowl of black olives, a bowl of a mixed assortment of cookies with a glass of milk, and a pack of cigarettes with a lighter. These things never seem to run out, even though I never refill the them. This is one of the more stable rooms in the house.
The Styrofoam room
There is nothing in this round room. The walls, floor, and ceiling are made of Styrofoam. I leave imprints here of things I do that way I can retrace my steps.
The Hallway has two couches with no backs to them that are kind of scribbled black like a little kid colored them in. Other than outside this is usually where the cats hang out. This place is always filled with weird sounds and smells that constantly change as you walk through, which is probably why the cats like it. The walls are black with red carpet. A small doll like house has been built into one of the walls in the hall. This is the home of Malinda who use to be a fairy until she lost her wings, now she lives here and has very borrower like tendencies.
This room is where I can release my creativity to the fullest point. Artistic abilities are not limited by reality here, and when I draw something it comes out the way it is in my head. I can make my art living even. In this room is every art supply I could possibly think of. The walls appear to be dripping with layers of multi colored paint.
All of the walls in my bedroom are large screens that have ever changing images on them. One wall scrolls through images of things I have seen in my life, one wall scrolls through things I have written, another scrolls through things I have read, and the last scrolls through written versions of conversations I’ve had. My entire floor is a bed with pillows in every corner and a giant quilt (with hundreds of different patterns on it) covering it. The closet safely contains a black hole. Anything I put in the closet never comes out, hence all the bolts on the closet door.
The backyard has a claw foot tub that is always filled with ice water and covered with tiny frogs. The cats chase them, but leave them alone when they are in the tub. There is a large tree here with three great trunks shooting out from one central location and a place where a fourth might have been, but is now just a smooth stump. The tree is in my backyard, but it is not mine. All of its leaves have red X’s on them and it is said if it gives you one than you are in grave danger. There is also a swing set which is orange and black and has a porch swing, a standard belt swing, and a sort of recliner swing. The ground is a mixture of green grass and patches of grass made of black marble transitioning almost seamlessly throughout the yard.
Night time Garden
Located in the backyard, there is a small temple made of mud that only I can enter. Inside there is a garden with a single window up high with a moonflower peering out. At night the moonflower blooms and reflects the moons light into the temple causing the mandrakes to pop out of the ground. The mandrakes tend to the garden and reinforce the mud walls and steeple every night. The Garden consists of Moon and Stars Watermelon (that actually contain cantaloupe meat inside), blackberries, various herbs, and black and red roses. In the center of the structure is a well in a tall tent. Going inside I can see the nights sky as the steeple sees it across the tents walls.
Sendia is a town I created where I could allow my imagination to run wild. These are the characters that inhabit that town.
Shock Palina– Across the street from my house lives Shock Palina (Ina) who is always on some kind of mind altering drugs and is always bringing over new drugs to try whenever she comes to visit. Ina wears a top hat with a trench coat and very long striped socks.
Charley– A few houses down lives ‘the card master’ Charley. He knows how to play every card game ever invented and plays them well. He never cheats, but knows when he’s being cheated. His life is consumed with the cards, he can’t stand not having a deck with him at all times and spends most of his time trying to find someone to play him in a game. He’s a sweet old man, sort of cartoon looking with his big nose and lengthy legs. He wears a hood over his head and is quite skinny. He forgets to eat quite often, thankfully Curl is around to remind him. Curl his Charley’s jester looking daughter who decorates and creates signs for stores, streets, etc.
Unnamed Albino Lady– Next to Charley lives the young unnamed albino woman who thinks she is an old man, she is quite good friends with Charley. Her eye sight isn’t very good and, although she doesn’t need it, she always walks with a cane. She lives in a poorly made shack and keeps ‘pet’ ants. She hates carpets for some reason and is nice, but quite insane. She is usually seen wearing a brown sweater vest with a cabby hat. Her eyes are not red, but a pale blue.
Female Praying Mantis– There is a female Praying Mantis who tries to give everyone love advice. She lives in the cracks and crevices in my house. Her advice always manages to end with you should eat your lovers, revitalizing she says it is. No one likes her very much.
Moca– Moca is a waitress at the The Glimpsy Glance, the only restaurant in town. Moca is a very attractive woman, but in an odd sort of way. For instead of being attracted to any of the typical features people only find her nose incredibly attractive. For this reason Moca always keeps her nose covered in public with various masks or scarves. Moca is rib showing skinny and often doesn’t wear a shirt since it doesn’t distract or bother anyone. Moca has the attitude of anyone who has been working in a diner for a long time, she’s nice to her regulars as long as they don’t get on her bad side.
Jim– Jim lives in Sendia, but is otherwise homeless. He is homeless because he gives, not just what he can afford to give, but everything he has. He can usually be seen ringing his bell for donations outside the
Glimpsy Glance. He gives all the donations he earns to other people who he believes needs them more though.
Tiffa– Tiffa lives next door to my house in Sendia. She trained her body to stop producing saliva because she thought it was disgusting, she drinks a lot of water to substitute it. She is currently working on gaining the ability to fly. She says it’s taking longer because it easier to stop doing something than to start doing something completely new. She has removed the lower half of her legs- so that she is lighter- to help aid her in this process. Needless to say she doesn’t eat much. She walks on her hands for now, just until she learns to fly.
Mouse– There is a mouse that lives in Tiffa’s front yard who has fallen in love with a small rock (still a bit larger than the mouse). He never leaves the rock and is often found clinging to the rock in what one might call an embrace.
Curl– Curl is the card masters daughter, the jester, once the one behind the king. She doesn’t view Sendia as chaos, she knows there is some kind of humorous logic to it, hence she opened her sign shop to label the town with. Outside her shop there is a sign that reads “Thank you lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine.” Curl is known for finding things funny that no one else does and telling jokes that not only don’t make people laugh, but sometimes makes them cry. Curl gets along best with the mouse who’s in love with the rock.
Wafe– Wafe is a gaunt man in a lab coat and a chef’s hat who works as a cook at the Glimpsy Glance. He is a an amazing chemist so cooking came quite easily to him, although he often doubles the kitchen at work as a laboratory, but only occasionally gives his concoctions to customers without them knowing. He loves his work so much he rarely pays much mind to anything else, including his two children, Scorch and Cinder. Whom many believe were the product of Wafe and science since there was never any sign of a woman. Wafe has a short temper, but for the most part keeps to himself. He is in his 40’s and has short red hair with bright blue eyes.
Scorch (female) and Cinder (Male)– Scorch and Cinder are teenage twin siblings and the product of Wafe. They both have white spiked up hair and almost fluorescent pink eyes. Their skin is pale although each has their fair share of birth marks (that strangely look like burn marks) so they usually have most of their bodies covered. They wear all black except for their arm covers which are striped red and black. Unlike their father they are quite social and friendly. Although, they each have a great fascination with fire that often gets them into trouble, though they try their best to contain their fire activities within their fireproof home.
When Moca found them as babies in Wafe’s lab, Wafe was working away ignoring their cries. She asked him if he planned to take care of them to which he promptly responded “It takes a village to raise a child.” Thus most of the town took part in raising the twins, except for Wafe that is.Scorch and Cinder are rarely seen apart and frequent the Glimpsy Glance to pester their father.
Orma Whitefire– Orma is a dragon, but is typically seen in her human form. Instead of gold Orma hordes books and resides in the town Library. She is usually good tempered unless someone fails to return one of her books.
Orma is very tall and dresses very properly, as librarians do, adorned with thick rimmed glasses and a tight bun of dark hair. Though there are peculiar aspects to her appearance as well, such as she has one purple eye and one pink and she has a fascination with lip art. Every day her lips are covered with a different design. Sometimes in a fascinating pattern of colors, other times depicting a scene or landscape.
Orma is very precise in nature and documents everything. Her journals include her conversations, ideas, books she’s been reading, even what time she brushed her teeth that day. Therefore most of her time is spent writing and reading and she rarely needs to leave the comforts of her library.
Malinda– Malinda is about two inches tall and use to be a fairy until her wings were ripped off in a terrible accident. She now lives in a house built into the walls of my house in Sendia and has developed very ‘borrower’ like qualities. She will speak to larger folk from time to time though more often she keeps to herself. If you watch closely you can sometimes catch her swinging around the house by her rope looking for things to ‘borrow’.