Visual Vomit

At gallery stroll last month, Janice Haskell introduced us to her visual vomit. I knew Janice via her mom Peggy Haskell, who I admire very much, and brother who we won’t mention because he gets too much attention anyway. Do you ever feel like some families get all the talent? Why didn’t God spread it around a little more?

Janice describes her artwork as a purging process she must conduct regularly to free her mind. I liked her own description of her work so much that I’ll share it with you verbatim.

“Since as far back as I can remember my mind and memories have been a self-sustaining loop; a video camera; a series of moving and still pictures that lend themselves to bizarre dreams and touchy unconventional social encounters.  While not really caring what others thought of me, I felt that I needed to do right by my parents.  I needed to find a way to still share those muzzled snapshots and macabre (often baneful) thoughts in an acceptable fashion.  The doodles were born.

“Lucky for me focus was not my strong suit; the more I tried the less I could – so I didn’t.  As a result, my doodles became more involved, chaotic, deathly, symmetrical, funny, creepy, childish, pretty, mechanical, sterile, liquid, non-sequitir.  There was freedom in my mental vomit.  The paper got bigger, then pens less standard.  As I finished a drawing it would go safely in a sleeve of their own.  Family and others started wondering what they were, and began to comment on them going so far as to call it “talent”.  What’s “talent” about divergent asylum?

“A few years later I was approached with a “would you ever sell” pose, which wreaked havoc on my pen’s flow.  I had to consider someone else’s ownership of my creations.  I felt paralyzed by the thought of expectation, commitment.  I quite liked the neutered commitment we had.  The coming months provided me with opportunity to forcefully relinquish the hold I had, and let go.  I let a friend show them in his hair salon, he went off the deep end, quit his job, sold his house, and as far as I know…my drawings too, for crack.

“I’m learning more and more how to share the intimate and convoluted pieces of me through my drawings without being fake and making small talk, and having to buy it coffee in the morning.  As much as I know what I see and feel, and the story and memories that I tell through my drawings, it’s just as much about how you react and connect and make it your own story.

“There’s always wind in freedom; something that looks like corn in vomit; and likely a parasitic twin in mental vomit.  I enjoy all those things, and I hope you do too.”

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