Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Heart and Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes
My Heart and Other Black Holes, originally uploaded by margotwood.

I bet if you cut open my stomach, the black slug of depression would slide out.
 
This piece is very special to me. It's not because I think it's the best work I've ever done (it's not), but because this piece has more meaning to me personally than most of my other works. Like my other young adult inspired fauxtos, this one is an homage to a book: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. But I didn't get the idea for this fauxto until months after I read it, until I personally started using the imagery in her book to describe how I've been feeling as of late. 

There is a very specific sentence in Jasmine's book that I am interpreting here:  

I bet if you cut open my stomach, the black slug of depression would slide out.


That line must have lodged itself in my brain because I haven't been able to get it out of my head for months and now I've adopted the saying "black slug" to describe my current situation. 

As some, many or none of you know, my Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer 2 years ago. I blogged about it and I've occasionally spoken about it in public. I addressed it again about 6 months after his diagnosis when they found a 2nd tumor when I did the fauxto for The 5th Wave. And since then I haven't said much about it. Because since then he's been great. He's had no new tumors and has been relatively healthy and functioning normally for the past 2 years. His initial diagnosis was bad and for the last two years I've handled it probably better than most people. It helps when you have a great support system (hi Sean! hi sisters! hi Mom!) and you have a great job and great coworkers (hi Harper!) -- these things make it very easy to cope with shitty situations like this. 

But then a month ago, he went in for his routine scan and there it was. The Little Fucker was back with a vengeance and planted his ass right on my Dad's brain stem. That Little Fucker is a smart ass because he knew if he took up shop on the brain stem, doctors wouldn't be able to remove him. And while all hope is not yet lost, we find ourselves back on the front lines of this stupid war that shouldn't even exist in the first place. 

So ever since we discovered the new tumor, I've been having hard time dealing with it all and this wave of deep sadness has blanketed me and now I have my own black slug. Unlike Jasmine's character Aysel, I call mine the black slug of sadness. He's a cousin of the black slug of depression, but he's no less a threat and he's still an asshole.

Here's another quote from the book I love:

Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.


The thing is I was better at dealing with it than others, but now, not so much. And you know what? That's okay. Life happens. You deal with it, even when you feel like you can't. 

Jasmine's book is unique among other YA books that tackle depression. My Heart is honest. This book does not flinch in the face of the ugly parts of life and it does not try to hide behind humor or cutesy characters, it's the real thing. It confronts the issues head on and goes through them rather than dances around them. I've read others in the same genre but this is the only one I would recommend anyone dealing with depression read. Because while it is raw and honest it is ultimately hopeful. And that is something we could all use a little more of: hope.

Now, about this fauxto!

So how do you create a fauxto of a black slug sliding out of someone's stomach? Molasses. That's how. For a while I was researching various body paints and liquid latex and even concoctions I could make using castor oil and food dye but then while grocery shopping, I stumbled upon MOLASSES and was like Eureka! I've got it! So I bought a bottle of the stuff and promptly went home and made my makeshift photo studio using a 7ft ladder, a black plastic table cloth and just went to town with the molasses.

Okay, so the thing they don't tell you about molasses is that it gets everywhere, even in places you weren't even near.  The consistency and color ended up working really well for this fauxto, but hot damn was that a mess to clean up. I think I still have some of it in my hair.

This was by far the second messiest fauxtoshoot I've ever done. (The messiest ever being the one I did for Anna Dressed In Blood) But this shoot might win for fastest shoot, thanks to my friend, Molasses. I had about 30 seconds to take as many pictures as I could with my remote, hope they were in focus and then get that crap off me. Luckily, I ended up with exactly 2 shots that were usable! I chose to go with this one because I think the hand motions are stronger. I like the movement that is happening with my left hand.

Almost zero editing was done in Photoshop. I didn't darken the image or tweak the colors, those were left as shot. I did smooth out the top of the molasses line though, to give it more of a slice effect, but really, that was just some super subtle editing.

Overall, I am happy with this photo. It is dark, much darker than Jasmine's book but I hope it is an honest portrayal of that sentence in her book and depression and sadness in general. I'm happy that I will be able to mark this dark time in my life with a dark fauxto. But now it's time to move on to more hopeful things in life. Like donuts. And books. And more fauxtos.

31 comments:

  1. This is incredible, Margot!

    Although I'm sorry to hear about your Dad. But I'm happy to know that you have a great support system. That's what Aysel has been missing. My Heart really is an honest book which more people have to pick up. Sending you sunshine and virtual doughnuts from the Philippines! And warm hugs.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that is definitely what Aysel was missing! And thank you for the virtual doughnuts, they were delicious!

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    2. I am here to tell the world of the good works of Great Dr Kumar. My name is Don Vera and this testimony is worth sharing. My man left me and my kids for 14 months to suffer. It was not so easy for me. I contacted so many spell casters who scammed me of my money but nothing happened. I love my husband so much but i did not lose hope and i kept on trying until i met Great Dr Kumar how he has helped so many people. I contacted him and explained to him. He told me not to worry that he will bring back my man in 3 days time. He consulted his powers and required some items from me which he will use to cast the spell to bring back my man. The items cost 200 American Dollars. I could not get it in my country. I sent him the money. He bought the items and cast the spell and to my greatest surprise, my husband came the third day just as Great Dr Kumar said. He begged me for forgiveness and he promised never to leave me for any reason. We are happy and we live together as one. Contact Great Dr Kumar now on: Drkumartemple@yahoo.com and you can also contact him on his website:
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  2. It's a GREAT fauxto, but I'm sorry how it came about. Sending good thoughts your way *hugs*

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  3. Every single thing about this post is amazing. Complete and total creative win with both the image and the writing. This goes to show what can happen when an artist pours heart and soul into her work.

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    Replies
    1. What Kate said.

      Also, biggest hug in the world for you and your family. I'm sending so much love to you guys (minus the That Little Fucker, which I hope shrivels and dies in a chemo hell scourge).

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    2. Thank you both so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my story!

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  4. Excellent fauxto. This is one of my favorites, because it's simple but powerful. Without knowing anything about the book except that one line, I know exactly what's happening and how that feels. It's beautiful and ugly at the same time. I admire your ability to create valuable art when in the middle of an emotional shitstorm-I usually find a corner and go fetal for quite some time, lol. Sending prayers and strength to you and your family!

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    Replies
    1. You know, when my Dad was initially diagnosed, I did just that. I kind of hid and didn't do any art for a long time. For about a year, I think I only produced like 3 or 4 new fauxtos but lately I've been determined to channel my feelings, whether good or bad, into my art as a sort of release. So far it seems to be working in my favor! Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

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  5. The photo is amazing - I definitely can also relate. Cancer is a vicious and evil fucker - you and your family are in my prayers
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  6. Haven't read this book yet, but hopefully I'll get my hands on a copy soon! And loved this blog post! Using molasses was a great idea! I'm really sorry to hear about your dad. It's a scary feeling when someone you love is in the hospital; my cousin had leukemia when I was younger and everyone was really scared because my grandfather had died from it. Now he's in remission, but it's still terrifying to think that it could come back. Sorry that you and your family had/have to go through this and I send my prayers to you all.

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  7. I'm so, so sorry to hear about your dad. I can't even imagine how awful it must be, especially considering everything your family has already been through. But they say pain can translate into great art, and that's definitely true here. The hand motions really are strong, and what an inspired move to use molasses! I'm sending positive thoughts and good wishes your way!

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  8. This is probably my favorite of your work so far. Your earnest & vulnerable words came through powerfully in your work. Although I'm not going through anything as hard as your struggle, I can absolutely relate to the darkness of your pain, and I think that's what makes a great artist: someone whose allows others to connect & see beauty. I've actually watched some of your Epic Reads videos throughout the winter on days I couldn't get out of bed and just needed some tea, laughs and book inspiration to cheer me up.
    You're super talented (and Aubry with laughs) and I hope you guys get some great raises for all that you do & inspire.
    Sending my best to you & your father. <3

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  9. What a perfect representation of this particular line, Margot! I think you captured it very well. I'm really sorry to hear about your father. The situation is terrible and terrifying! I'll be thinking of you and your family, and hoping for the best <3

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  10. It's always great to read when the piece is something that was drawn from a real experience. This fauxto, along with the story that goes with it (not just the book, but your own) is what makes it even more heartbreaking. But while it rips your heart and crushes it into a million pieces, the way you interpreted and shared your art is what puts your heart back together. I had to take a moment to compose myself after reading your post because my grandmother past away just last March 6th because of lung cancer. She didn't last long, just a month since we brought her to the hospital in February and learned of the tumor in her chest. It was like being sucked into a vortex without knowing it. I admire your strength, Margot. I pray that your Dad will be okay soon. Hold tight. Keep doing what you do because you are getting really great at it. Sending virtual hugs from to you!

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  11. Margot. I love your work and your words. Wish I had some to trade. *Hugs*, just the same. xx

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