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ART SPEAKS

ART SPEAKS

Art is powerful & empowering!

WPSC’s Addressing Health Equity, Stigma & Bias Workgroup is featuring artwork as a powerful way to connect with patients’ experiences with health conditions.

Art is not only beautiful, it is a potent medium of expression. Evocative and compelling, it touches the soul and connects in a way no other medium can.

Featured artwork includes art and poetry by PNW residents. Big thank you to the artists for sharing their compelling pieces with us.

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Visual Art

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ART PIECE: Black Sheep
Click here for a video showing the making of this piece

ARTIST NAME: Louie Gong
Click here for artist’s biography and link to Eighth Generation.

ARTIST INFO: Louie Gong (Nooksack) is the founder of Eighth Generation. A self-taught artist who was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community in northwest Washington, he got his start by painting cultural art on shoes.

Realizing that creating one-of-a-kind pieces did not provide a sustainable pathway to success, he began applying his artwork to accessibly priced products. His unique style merges traditional Coast Salish art with influences from his mixed heritage and urban environment to create work that resonates widely across communities and cultures.

Black Sheep is about drawing power from past experiences— even traumas. It is about self-care.

“I’ve been thinking about the term baggage, and it’s all wrong. When we think about our past experiences as something we can just put down, we can’t actually heal. The real pathway to becoming stronger and more confident versions of ourselves is to learn to live in symbiosis with our past experiences.”

The Black Sheep’s body is composed of Louie’s signature wolf-mouth motif, which he uses here to symbolize negative past experiences. It is painted loosely to indicate the frequent movement of and the idea that our past experiences are living parts of us that we can’t simply set down as if they were “baggage.”

By contrast, the Black Sheep’s face is composed of highly structured Coast Salish design elements to indicate the self-confidence drawn from the understanding that past experiences make us better equipped to manage whatever lies ahead.  A few understated sprouts indicate constant growth regardless of what we are experiencing.

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ART PIECE: Bleed Joy

ARTIST NAME: Tahira Naqvi

ARTIST INFO: I am a new artist venturing out to create artwork that speaks to mental health struggles. Childhood trauma is a big factor in my art, which is abstract and comes from the heart. It delves into deep wounds and the quest to achieve joy through self-reflection. I speak through colors and shapes that represent this journey of self-healing.

When I started on this piece, I did not know what to create, but I knew I wanted to display my pain, my joy, and my journey. So, I faced the canvas and decided to just let it flow. This piece has chaos, joy and a dark passenger. All representing the struggle between my child and adult selves. There is a hot air balloon. When I was little, I always wanted to escape. One day, I took my mom’s large shoe box and tied her red scarf to its four ends, after which, I walked out to our balcony and tried to leap off to go explore the world. Except, my grandfather saved me.

I have a natural instinct to leap forward and escape. It took cycles of anxiety to create this very personal piece. “Bleed Joy” is for everyone dealing with mental chaos and anxiety in their lives. My hope is that, by putting this out there, I will finally heal and find contentment.

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ART PIECE: Untitled

ARTIST NAME: Munira Leslie Sinclair

ARTIST INFO: Munira Leslie Sinclair was a talented visual artist, eloquent writer & devoted mother to her children, including an adult son with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Much of her artwork was inspired by her struggles through some very difficult times as well as the unrelenting challenges of trying to ensure quality care for her son with special needs, in a system not well set up for patients like him. A passionate patient advocate, she worked to improve the lives of those with TBI through legislation & advocacy training. While she faced adversity & bouts of cancer with fortitude, art was her outlet.

Leslie passed away on September 30, 2022. Special thanks go to her daughter, Jennifer, who has given WPSC’s Addressing Stigma & Bias Workgroup permission to share these 2 pieces with our audience.

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ART PIECE: Safe Space

ART PIECE: Trapped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART PIECE: Underwater

 

ARTIST NAME: Kaycia Ogata
Click here for artist’s biography and link to Eighth Generation.

ARTIST INFO: Kaycia Ogata is a graphic designer and illustrator, living and working in Portland, Oregon. Art has always been a form of therapy for her, as she lived with some depression and anxiety from a young age. Not being able to form the words she needed, she drew them. Underwater was created in remembrance of her mother’s passing when she was a child, and that sense of wanting to retreat deep into the ocean. Safe Space and Trapped were both created at the start of the pandemic, when the entire world locked down, capturing that sense of fear, isolation and uncertainty. More of her work – including design – can be found on her website

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ART PIECE: Freed: Dawning, Lightened, Lifted

ART PIECE: Bangau

ARTIST NAME: Baacooly

ARTIST INFO: Baacooly is a self-taught artist hailing from a small town in culturally rich Penang, Malaysia. She creates her art pieces in watercolour with a little mixed media thrown in. Female characters are her preferred subject matters, painted in the surreal style. They are often portrayed as seemingly lost in thought. She draws inspiration from her own experiences in life and whatever is tugging at her heart the most when she is working on her creations. Rather than explain her thoughts behind each piece, Baacooly prefers for her audience to draw their own conclusions & conjure their own stories when they view her paintings. More of her work can be found on her website

 

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Poetry

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EVERYTHING CHANGES

Everything is touched
by the sea of time.
We are life forms
on the shore
of existence.
 
No matter how you try
to be immovable,
time moves you.
It caresses you,
lulls you,
embraces you.
 
Just as you’re buoyed
into a comfortable slumber,
it snatches you,
pulls you out
& swallows you.
It swirls you around
& sucks you in.
 
Then,
just as suddenly,
it floats you,
breathless,
onto its surface.
 
The winds of change
calm to a whisper.
You feel it
cushioning you,
as you lay
adrift
with your face to the sky.
 
Then it stirs,
picks you up,
carries you
on a wave;
pushes you forward,
races you
back to shore
& deposits you,
gently,
onto the sand.
 
Glistening in the sun,
you catch your ragged breath. And settle down.
 
Before long,
you’re feeling the breeze
on your face,
looking up at the stars
& thinking:
I could stay like this forever.
You inhale the stillness…
 
Then it wakes you
from your reverie.
It foams
at your feet,
kissing your toes,
nudging you.
It teases you
into motion.
 
Slowly,
you move to the tide’s rhythmic touch,
sway to its hypnotic gyrations
& join,
again,
the dance of life.

Tomorrow becomes today.
Today becomes yesterday. Yesterday is but a memory.
Did we remember to live in today?

© 2020 Anita Sulaiman

POEM TITLE: EVERTHING CHANGES

ARTIST NAME: Anita Sulaiman

ARTIST INFO: Anita Sulaiman is Principal Consultant and Executive Coach at IBEX Consulting, whose areas of expertise include strategy, leadership development, marketing and change management/business process re-engineering. Anita is also a culture coach specializing in cultural competency and cross-cultural communication. Helping individuals and organizations excel in a global world is a passion.

Anita stays at the forefront of efforts to improve patient safety, serving on advisory groups and committees for organizations including the Washington Patient Safety Coalition, Foundation for Health Care Quality (Patient & Family Advisory Council) and Washington State Coalition for Language Access. She is Chair of the Addressing Stigma and Bias Workgroup, a partnership between WPSC and the Bree Collaborative, a healthcare non-profit established by the Washington State Legislature.

Everything Changes was written at a time of emotional turmoil. In the midst of personal upheaval, thanks to the practice of meditation to help with her mental health, this poem about the vagaries of time captures moments of clarity from seeing that change, while invariably very stress-inducing, are part of the ebb & flow of life.


MOTHER

Mother
You are & you aren’t her
You’ve had to be mother & father
Did you know – you were the world to me?
Your eyes the window through which I see

Mother
Not a word to use in vain
So why are you my biggest source of pain?
You are the reason I am here
You are the idea I hold dear

What is this figure?
We call mother
What is this idea?
No other thing comes near

She is a hug
A warm embrace
Someone who’s there to kiss your face
To hold your hand
To wipe your tears
She’s there to chase away your fears

She is the reason
You stand strong
Can tell the difference between right & wrong
She is your shelter
From the storm
The well you get your reassurance from

At least that’s what
Everyone seems to think
They don’t know yours pushed you to the brink
Put you down
And cast you out
Always wished she could’ve done without

Mine gave me a bit of love
And a lot of hate
Served honey & poison on the same plate
Was never there
To kiss my face
But she made sure I always knew my place

I had no shelter
From storms or even rain
What I had
Would drive most people insane
There was no one
To wipe away my tears
I had someone filling my heart with fears

While you had hugs
Someone to hold your hand
I had to figure out where I stand
You always knew
Where you belong
All I was ever told was I was wrong

Wrong to want
To ask or to question
To live for others – that is my mission
You had wind beneath your wings?
Me?
Who am I to have needs or feelings?

While you had kisses
A friend & all
Someone to catch you when you fall
I had no right
To be happy
Yes, that was what she said to me

So don’t tell me
How I’m supposed to feel
You don’t know what for me is real
Don’t bother
To pile on the guilt
That’s the foundation on which I was built

All that said
Good comes with bad
She’s the only mother I’ve ever had
The person
Who instilled in me
All the good things that to this day you see

She taught me
Through trial by fire
How to prevail & always aim higher
Yes, I suffered
A million cuts
I also have the biggest heart of hearts

Mummy
If you only knew
All the love I have in my heart for you
To me
You gave birth
Yet for some reason
You don’t know my worth

I am
Pure love
A blessing
A gift from the Lord above
That is what babies are
Not a thing comes close
Not even by far

Today
I make peace
With all that was, will be & all that is
I can’t forget
But I forgive
You were only doing your best to live

In return
These things I ask
No more pretenses
Take off your mask
It’s time
Let go
Set yourself free
From who you think you’re supposed to be

I am trying
To do the same
Life is too short
For anger or for blame
I hope you see
That just like you
I am human
I’m doing my best too

All my life
Through all the hurts
I’ve been held to impossible standards
Now I know
It’s clear to me
Those high bars
Were what you were made to see

On this day
I hereby purge
I release
So we both can finally have peace

From here on
May we know
Acceptance
And a better tomorrow

Happy Mother’s Day.

© Anita Sulaiman 2023

POEM TITLE: MOTHER

ARTIST NAME: Anita Sulaiman

ARTIST INFO: Anita Sulaiman is Principal Consultant and Executive Coach at IBEX Consulting, whose areas of expertise include strategy, leadership development, marketing and change management/business process re-engineering. Anita is also a culture coach specializing in cultural competency and cross-cultural communication. Helping individuals and organizations excel in a global world is a passion.

Anita stays at the forefront of efforts to improve patient safety, serving on advisory groups and committees for organizations including the Washington Patient Safety Coalition, Foundation for Health Care Quality (Patient & Family Advisory Council) and Washington State Coalition for Language Access. She is Chair of the Addressing Stigma and Bias Workgroup, a partnership between WPSC and the Bree Collaborative, a healthcare non-profit established by the Washington State Legislature.

Mother’s Day is a tough one for me. This year, I struggled as I did in previous years. Except, this year, my mother, who recently turned 80, is very ill. Her condition has intensified for me all the emotions tied to her. This poem is dedicated to all who can relate.

Usually, the words just come. I have to scribble quickly & I am done. This time, I struggled. The words wanted to come out, but… Something in me resisted. I had to fight to let these truths out. To give them the light of day felt like giving my pain validity.

Writing down these words meant staring my trauma in the face. It meant ripping off the plaster. In the end, it was exactly what needed to be done. This is validation I needed to gift to myself. I am giving myself long overdue permission to feel, to acknowledge. It is what it is. No matter what people say, it’s ok. It’s not right, but it’s ok. With that realization comes release.

My poems are medicine to me. Sometimes they are light that shows the way – guidance from a place of pure love. Now I can start to heal, God willing.

This is my art; my outlet; expression from the deeper parts of me. This is my balm; my inspired remedy. This is healing for my soul. Poetry, for me, is all that & more. It’s my connection with the Divine. It is divine.

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WHO AM I TRYING TO BE?

Who am I? Who am I trying to be?
Not myself, anyone but myself.
Living in a fantasy to bury the reality,
Making myself the mystery,
A strong facade disguising the misery.
Empty, but beyond the point of emptiness,
Full to brim with fake confidence,
A guard that will never be broken,
Because I broke a long time ago.
I’m hurting but don’t tell anyone.
No one needs to know.
Don’t show or you’ve failed.
Always okay, always fine, always on show.
The show must go on.
It will never stop.
The show must not go on,
But I know it will.
I give up. I give up giving up.
I am lost.
I don’t need to be saved,
I need to be found.

POEM TITLE: WHO AM I TRYING TO BE?

ARTIST NAME: Cara Delevingne

ARTIST INFO: Cara Delevingne, actress and model, shares her personal experiences with anxiety and depression.