Amy, Artist Warrior Princess

Amy Artist Warrior Princess
My mentor and counsel Patricia Reis gave me this card (“Better is the Ready,” oil on wooden door, by Irene Hardwicke Olivieri). I make sure to look at this image every day.

The “saboteur,” the me, the part of my brain doing everything she can to keep the “imposter” from ending my life, is also the “warrior.” 

Since admitted into a psychiatric ward, the “warrior” has not only fought for my life. She’s also fought so I can continue to make work as an artist.

One doesn’t exist without the other.

The warrior—with quiver bursting with weapons—defends me as we get medications right, keeps the imposter from taking over my brain, taking the me, taking the artist. 

Once it’s clear I’m taking the right ratio of drugs, the defensive becomes offensive, we enter an arena, and the warrior uses her weapons to face the imposter. 

Bill, who knows me, as well as I know me, in many ways is the warrior’s loyal aid—from lending his unwavering ear, to staying by my side when the fight gets especially harrowing, to suggesting tools I hadn’t thought to use during this defense. 

One such tool is a pad of graph paper Bill brought to the psychiatric ward. He knew that just as I’ve only needed a small room to come to the ideas for my installations, away from home I needed only these sheets of grid-lined paper.

I remember my relief, while sitting at a table in the psychiatric ward’s common area to which I was confined. I could recall an installation idea I’d come to before the imposter tried to take over, an idea for which I hadn’t yet described nor completed its calculations. 

And, then my larger relief, when as I drew out this idea, the involuntary movement of my legs, arms, and head, slowed then stopped, that I was able to draw, that I was able to elaborate all the details.

This was the moment I knew I could still do my work, even if it was a little at a time.

When I got home from the ward, I knew I should simplify, to strip down to the essentials. I’ll need to carry as little as possible, to be light, to make myself ready. 

The first thing I did was cancel my 9-institution retrospective (people’ll be picking up their books at other exhibits and events instead; I’ll update my website when I can). I was already behind on the things I’d need to prepare for this epic event, things that were going to take more than a year and a half of full days to get ready. 

So far, I’ve spent most of my simplified, abbreviated work time writing. But, I know that—when it’s time—I’ll be able to divide this time between writing and working toward new installations. 

Because that’s what I want to do. And, all I can do, is all I can do right now.

A year ago, I wrote a little about my fear-to-forgiveness journey with my mother; and earlier this year, not long before I was “interrupted” I shared my commitment to find her, to have the opportunity to tell her I love her, that I hope she’s found peace, and that there is nothing to forgive.

When I do find her, I also want to tell her that I now know she was also a warrior, fighting to survive as best as she could. She had her own quiver bursting, made herself light, made herself ready. 

Amy Artist Warrior Princess

To make a donation: (there are also several drawings available as well as new “Perpetual Yard Sale” items).


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