Tag Archives: drawing

From the vaults: art about addiction, from 1991.

Self Portrait with Dino Jan 26 1989 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1990On Jan 27 2020 I celebrated 31 years clean and sober.

These paintings are from Fall 1991, when I was just turning three years sober. I had several excellent painting teachers at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the school where I finished my degree after I got sober. These paintings were part of a series I did with one of them.

The one above shows me and my friend Dino in her flat on First Avenue, the night before I left for treatment, January 27, 1989.

Self Portrait with P at the Jane West in 1987 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1990This one, of my longtime on-and-off boyfriend P. and I, is at the Jane West Hotel.

It was an SRO then, I think it’s fancy now.

Self Portrait Panhandling 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991My main income as a junky came from panhandling.

Not because I was opposed to sex work – I have always known and loved sex workers – but because my father, my first abuser, made me so self-conscious about my cellulite! I found it very hard to see my own body as a commodity.

Self Portrait Panhandling with subway entry in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1991These paintings are pretty dark, I know.

Their surfaces are excoriated, like my skin was then. I literally scraped away the paper.

Self Portrait Panhandling with subway entry in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1991 cuBeing a junky was bad then and it’s bad now.

Self Portrait snorting on LES in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991I have always had a ferocious sense of self-preservation, beading up between the lashings of self-destruction.

I wasn’t a needle user til my very last night before treatment; I snorted instead, in the bathroom of every restaurant and bar that would let me on First Avenue.

I worried a lot, at the time, about what the alkaloid plus whatever it was cut with was doing to my sinuses.

Yesterday I had my first sinus ultrasound, at my first visit to a German Otolaryngologist.

He ran the lube-slick device over my cheek, and he yelped, “Jesus Christ!” And said no more, except that I must get a CT scan immediately and I may need surgery.

Luckily sinus surgery not too big a deal and we have incredible German health insurance that will cover everything! But yeah, I guess there was a reason I was sick eight times in ten months last year.

I am so lucky, so grateful to be alive, to be here in Germany, to be working.

Self Portrait panhandling 1989 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991I feel such grief for the huge population in the States living in opiate addiction.

Harm reduction matters and #narcansaveslives. Don’t leave before the miracle happens.

None of these paintings had ever been photographed; no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

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.


Live-drawing Pêdra Costa and Sadie Lune at the Schwules Museum!

Pedra Costa performing at Schwules Museum by Suzanne Forbes Mar 7 2019Valentine’s Day was the finissage of the EXTRA + TERRESTRIAL exhibit by COVEN BERLIN at Berlin’s Gay Museum, the Schwules Museum.

I was invited by Harley Aussoleil of COVEN BERLIN to do documentary drawing. (You can see my drawings from the Spoken Word event of the show here.)

Pêdra Costa, a Brazilian performance artist, performed hers work de_colon_isation. You can see hers beginning the piece above, with technical support from Maya Guttman.

In the background, on the wall, are drawn works by the incredible Mexican artist Rurru Mipanochia; you can see photos of them here!

Pedra Costa dancing in performance at Schwules Museum by Suzanne Forbes Feb 27 2019Here is Pêdra dancing as the scent of “Brazilian Bum Bum” cream fills the air.

I loved how the sensory experience of smell was incorporated into the work. There are photos on Instagram!

Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux filmed by Marit Ostberg at Schwules Museum by Suzanne Forbes March 7 2019My friend Sadie Lune, who is part of COVEN, was being filmed by the documentary crew of multidisciplinary queer artist Marit Östberg.

Here you can see Sadie, eight months pregnant, being interviewed as she and photographer Jo Pollux lie within Sadie’s piece, “Weird Sisters”. I feel like it looks like they’re in a field at night and Sadie is pointing out the constellations to Jo, telling her a story about the baby’s star sign.

Many thanks to Harley Aussoleil, who was in charge of the event programming for this exhibit and provided wonderful support to me as I worked! These drawings, like 95% of my art, are licensed Creative Commons for you to freely use and share if you credit me as artist.

And always, always, thank you to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly subscription support makes my work documenting queer Berlin possible.