From Amy: Trauma affected me in ways I sensed but couldn’t verbalize. I grappled with opposing halves of my psyche until I discovered the arts as an outlet for healing. “Imprints of traumatic experiences are organized not as coherent logical narratives but in fragmented sensory and emotional traces: images, sounds, and physical sensations.” -Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
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/fôrm/ is a multidisciplinary narrative, exploring trauma through the archetypal hero’s journey. It will incorporate art, movement, and music in an (autobiographical) story illustrated by mixed media art, and visual media.
The story follows the exploration of a young woman as she redefines what it means to be “home.” Unexpectedly sucked into the world of trauma, she discovers, the darkest demons are within herself. Embarking on an archetypal hero’s journey, she recreates and forms a new definition of “home” through the lessons learned from trauma. She allows these lessons to illuminate her path give her a gift that she can bestow upon society, and herself. Forming a bold, new identity through art she finds “home” can never be rediscovered but instead reformed through, the expansive freedom of creativity, the universal symbols of myth, and the patterns in the stories all around us.
Our story begins as Amy is discharged from the hospital. She is alone on stage surrounded by artwork and supplies from the hospital. Afraid of the outside world and surrounded by voices of doubt, she is thrust from a place she has come to call home for the past few months and thrust back into a world that feels unfamiliar and much scarier than before. She struggles with banal daily tasks and interactions. In seclusion, Amy retreats into the world of her imagination and uses her art as a way to communicate with the outside world. Using her discharge papers as her guide, she reexamines the traumas that have taken place and through creation is able to find her voice again. Determined to share her work with the community, Amy challenges her fears and mounts an art show. She is able to not only cope, but thrive as she puts the events of her life on display for her community. She is forced to deal with feelings she had long since cast aside and suppressed as everyone begins to leave. Her final moment on stage is a bookend to how she began, alone surrounded by her artwork and supplies, in which she experiences a final cathartic release and is able to express her emotions somewhere other than on a canvas.
As we are devising the moments in this show, we are constantly discovering new ways to utilize objects, light, and media. Amy will begin on stage surrounded by every item needed for the show. As the story shifts time from the present to the past, practical things become more fanciful and take on different forms. Everything in Amy’s isolated world is utilitarian and transformative. Creativity provides a safe container for her to explore her emotions and start to form ways for her to deal with the traumas of the past.
We are incorporating movement, shadow work, and possibly puppetry to represent some of the challenges and demons, Amy has to face. Her world is ever-changing and its form is constantly shifting through the use of projection and video design. Amy will be painting live on stage and we will be using painting not only in a practical sense but also deeply rooted in metaphor. This constant transformation of adversity to creativity will be present throughout all elements of design.
Amy is a survivor of sexual abuse, a total gastrectomy, a coma, 27 surgeries, organ failure, six years unable to eat or drink, and the PTSD that comes from a decade of trauma – all starting from her senior year of high school. She wrestled with various destructive coping mechanisms, until canvas, set her free. Picking up a paintbrush changed her world forever with a means of expressing what was too overwhelming for words.
These stories, which were her narrative medicine, are interwoven with original songs and mixed media art to show the holistic experience of healing from trauma – a process that happens in felt sensations and lived through the body, not just our minds. This is a primal piece of live-storytelling – a modern-day myth, created from trauma, of how Amy finally came back into society after trauma.