On 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.
This 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.
My 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.
These paintings are pretty dark, I know.
Their surfaces are excoriated, like my skin was then. I literally scraped away the paper.
Being a junky was bad then and it’s bad now.
I 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.
I 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.