Category Archives: New York in the 80s

Portraits of Victoria, from 1986 to this weekend.

Remote drawing of Victoria Aronoff by Suzanne Forbes March 29 2020I feel like the drawing-through-Zoom thing is working!

At least for people I know, and I’ve known Victoria since 1975! We had a wonderful visit over Zoom on Sunday and I made this drawing, on Strathmore Toned Gray Mixed Media paper.

This one is on illustration board, from 1987.

Note the X-Men comic and the careful rendering of the china set my Mom had then!

Victorian 1986 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumThis is from 1986.

Can’t remember if it is a black and white study or this is a photo of a photocopy, I found it on the hard drive from my last attempt at archiving all my work, in 2010.

Victoria Fall 1986 19th st and 8th avenue by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is a two-color watercolor study from Fall 1986.

Victoria was my primary model during my NYC art school years. She posed for a lot of portraits. This one was done at one of the Cuban-Chinese train car diners my Chelsea neighbourhood used to be full of. I used to give her downers to help her hold still, so her expression may be the result of a lot of Valium.

drawing of Victoria Aronoff by Suzanne Forbes 1993I did this one in January 1993.

I had at that point met and moved in with my first husband, Steve, and we were living in a big duplex in St. Paul. I think this was in NY, although Victoria lived in DC at the time. She came up to the city because I had gone to a comic convention in New York; I was just about to finally break into comics.

Rachel Ketchum with Victoria on Great Jones St. 1980Here’s Victoria and I in her mother’s painting studio at their loft on Great Jones St. in 1980.

Photo by her mom, the artist J. Nebraska Gifford. I was thirteen and she was fourteen. We would say we were staying at each other’s houses and just stay out all night wandering the Village.

Victoria Aronoff NYE 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumThis is Victoria on New Year’s Eve 1995, in DC.

We had made strange and elaborate hats out of newspaper, and there was some kind of walkie-talkie game?

Victoria and Gideon Aronoff NYE 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumAnd this one is Victoria and her former husband, Gideon.

You can see some of Victoria’s recent art on this guest post here. We are about to start a collaboration – I’m gonna embroider one of her drawings!

Only a couple of these portraits had ever been photographed; no modern media record of the rest existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever. And of course, I am the only person who knows when they were made and why, the story of the moments in the pictures.

As a highly-vulnerable person with asthma and autoimmune illness, it seems more important than ever to document my life’s work. Not morbid, just pragmatic!

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Sacred Heart Redux, with some hard thoughts about C-PTSD in crisis times.

Jeweled Sacred Heart lit by fire by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020I am so lucky to be obsessed with new materials right now.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have the privilege of staying safely at home, and then as if the universe is being wildly generous, I am also really excited about some mixed media work. I made this Jeweled Sacred Heart, which you see here in our hallway lit by actual fire, with the 3D Printer Pen my mom-in-law gave me for Christmas.

Jeweled Sacred Heart made by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020Like many trauma survivors and childhood sexual abuse survivors with C-PTSD, I am feeling calm and focused.

I’ve been seeing disabled, chronically ill and survivor folx on twitter, Medium and The Mighty talk about how they feel clear and cool. For the first time in a long time, our insides match the outside. This isn’t a good feeling, but it is a different feeling than feeling like you are wrong for how you feel. Or being told you’re crazy for how you feel.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020My nervous system feels lined up with the world in a way that it never usually does.

And I feel powerful, because I’m endocrinologically in touch with all the resources that helped me survive my abusive father, adolescent sexual attackers, professional harassers, and life-long severe depression and OCD.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020It’s true that my night terrors have ramped up, and the nightmares are harder to shake off when I wake up.

But unlike so many chronically ill and disabled folk, I have all my medications on hand.

Who knew that my American habit of hoarding meds, developed in my early 40s when for a short period before Obamacare I was both uninsured and uninsurable, would come in handy? Well, me, I knew. Because I’ve always expected this.

If you’re disturbed by GenXers in your timelines yelling “Wolverines!” and seeming … almost relieved ???, please know: it’s the first time in decades the world’s messaging matches the daily messaging of our C-PTSD endrocrine systems.

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020 flame detailI told my husband that I imagined this time when we signed the lease for our flat.

“You did??” he replied, astonished. Of course I did. This, or the water wars, or dirigibles of starving Southern Hemisphereans landing at Tempelhofer Field and taking, deservedly, the food and medicine we should have been giving them all along.

 As an ’80s teenager I used to jolt awake at a crack of lightning in my Chelsea bedroom, thinking, “That was it. The bomb.”

Jeweled Sacred Heart by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2020 on velvetYou don’t ever shake that off; we are all refugees of some terrible part of the timeline or the planet.

It’s just that the West has never wanted to admit it, has never wanted us to raise our voices or amplify the voices of all the other sufferers.

I myself couldn’t really hear the voice of my own trauma until I came to Berlin and got on good German health insurance.

Until I went to the ER and never got a single bill. Until my husband and I pulled ourselves from a burning building.

Turns out social justice is the most important thing in the world.

We all matter. Our burning hearts are one.

Hearts Afire shadowbox

Hearts Afire embroidery