astro sign

VITA—House of Self, Aries

 
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THE HOUSE OF SELF

My own story of anxiety started at around 10 or 11 years old. My episodes of paralyzing fear invaded at moments of uncertainty but also elation (which is super confusing). Now I know that while my brain is hard wired to fritz out, that I have tools to work through it. The startling thing about my journey to recovery however was realizing how selfish AND self-destructive I could be. All of this was on my mind when I created the House of Self.

This isn’t a demonization of mental illness. In fact it’s the exact opposite. My brain chemistry doesn’t define me but it has shaped me and had an impact on the people I’m closest to—in my past and present. The anxiety itself was so isolating however I didn’t realize this for a long time. This house concerns itself with the ego and our potential. In the tarot, The Fool card is associated with the blank slate or the creative intuition before the spark of creation—the same themes run through this house as well. What if we had more than one beginning? What if every spat of fear or internal turmoil gave us another opportunity to get stronger?

Brain and melt

Brain and melt

SYMBOLS

MELTDOWN

When I look at my drawing I think about the tactics I would use to ground myself in reality when I was feeling insane on the inside. I would stomp my feet on the ground clench, unclench my fists to feel my body.

ANEMONE

Also known as wind flower, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs associates this flower with health, protection, and healing. It suggests: “Gather the blossoms when first seen in the spring, wrap them up in a red cloth and wear or carry to prevent disease. Grow red anemones in the garden to protect both it and the home. Use the blossoms in all healing rituals.”†

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NATI—House of Child's Play, Leo

 
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THE HOUSE OF CHILD’S PLAY

For an artist, I tend to be hyper organized when it comes to making work. I need my studio cleaned, the mail sorted, and to be dressed for the day before I work each day. I also use A LOT of spreadsheets. Whether it’s a checklist of possible ideas for new drawings, a deadline calendar, or a “tarot tracker”—I use spreadsheets to keep on top of the “themes and schemes”.

What does this have to do with this image? Well when I made my little Tarot Tracker doc (yes, that’s what it is called) I broke each suit down into corresponding colors (red, green, yellow, blue) that matched emotions (rage, jealousy, anxiety, sorrow) and then aligned them to each house of the zodiac via each house’s associated astrological sign. (See, I NEED a spreadsheet to keep track!) The fifth house was about drama, joy, love affairs, and children. It felt a little strange so I kinda ignored the “love affairs” part and focused on those other key words. This was the first drawing that came to me after doing this exercise. It set the tone for the rest of the deck—not just visually but how I would hash out the rest of the images.

SYMBOLS

The lion mask

The lion mask

THE LION MASK

This is a blatant reference to the astrological sign of Leo but there’s more going on. I chose a mask that hurts because that’s what masks can do. They look good on the outside but hide the fear and pain (or any emotion at all) behind them. A mask that weeps blood from a smiling face seemed like the best illustration of “sticks and stone may break my bone but words will slice right through me”.

The bat & warp

The bat & warp

THE BAT

I chose this instrument for several significant reasons. The first being its attachment to childhood sport—pretty basic. The second being a bat as a weapon. When I was in the second grade, my friend came to school with a bloodshot eye. “My sister hit me in the skull with a metal bat” she said. I was horrified (it’s horrific) and the image has never left me. Childhood and child’s play has an element of violence.

THE WARP

The warp was a late edition to this. I was worried about how graphic some people might find this and wanted to add a surreal element to break up the tension. It gives a bit of haze to the overall vibe.

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