untangling knots, múkʷa ğesáx̄ela

untangling knots, múkʷa ğesáx̄ela: pulling at the threads of intergenerational trauma, chronic pain, and western medicine

this art project explores my experiences as an Indigenous woman with chronic pain navigating western medicine. it is about feeling alone, afraid gaslit, confused, and in constant pain. 

it attempts to untangle some overlapping ideas about intergenerational trauma, shared Ancestral experiences, the effects of r*sidential school and colonial harm, and how beading is medicine for me. 

i incorporated Haislakala words written onto the canvases, words that translate to hurt, afraid, veins, hurt in the mind. 

i tried to go back through these moments and offer support myself and others while we go through scary painful experiences. stitching myself into each moment, Indigenizing the memories and spaces.. creating little bits of comfort. reminding myself and others that we are not alone in this. 

i tried to use my beading art practice as medicine. in a strange twist, i was temporarily on medication that actually worked quite well for me while i was working on these pieces. it's not possible for me to be on it long term, but it gave me a glimpse into a couple days of pain free living. it was inspiring and also heart breaking to go back to daily pain.. and fed into the spirit of this project in a lot of ways. 

the canvas pieces are inspired by: 

Jaida Grey Eagle: https://www.jaidagreyeagle.com/winyan @jaida.greyeagle

and also Michelle Sound: https://www.michellesound.art/ @michellesound.art

this project was funded by First People's Cultural Council  

 

overview of entire project

below are some beaded works that were created as wearable art pieces, with descriptions.

'émýax̄a : pray

these earrings are meant to remind you that your Ancestors prayers are with you during hard times. they prayed for your existence, for your protection, and for your love and well-being.

i hope these earrings can join you during hard moments, including times when colonization affects your life and wellbeing. i hope they comfort you when things feel dark and lonely, when you feel like there's no one on your side.

this pair hangs 7 inches on rose gold hooks. they contain labradorite for connection to Ancestors and spirit world, faceted moonstone for connection to the natural rhythm and wisdom of the moon, and pure copper beads for protection. (this pair is sold)

 

'áiga : preserve

these special one of a kind beaded earrings are about preserving precious hope. keeping it alive even when you're in dark and scary times. holding it sacred, not letting the flame go out. even if you can't see it, you're breathing into it to keep it alive.

this pair pays homage to the long, dark periods of medical trauma some of us go through. it is about holding on through the really brutal times. remembering the sacred fire of hope your Ancestors preserved for you, and keep lit for you.

the past while has been really challenging for me health wise, mental and physical and probably spiritually too. it's hard to stay hopeful when you're in constant pain. but there are brighter days ahead, and i hope you feel that too.

this pair hangs about 7 inches on surgical steel hooks, and contains faceted silver labradorite crystal to carry your Ancestors and connection to spirit world with you. i hope they bring this energy to their wearer.

these are made entirely of charlotte facet cut glass seed beads, which makes them sparkle intensely. (this pair is sold)

 

 

untangling knots: múkʷa  ğesáx̄ela. 

pulling at the threads of intergenerational trauma, chronic pain, and western medicine.

these special one of a kind earrings are meant to join you during your difficult appointments, conversations, and/or your rough pain days. 

they are meant to feel like little super heroes, protecting you and cheering you on. your pain is real and i believe you. 

going to medical appointments with chronic pain, whether diagnosed or not, can be a really challenging and devastating experience. not being believed, not being given support or respect, and being belittled while you're vulnerable and scared is a nightmare. i hope these pieces can bring some comfort to their wearer, and make them feel less alone.

you deserve to be believed and treated with dignity and respect. you deserve to have people in your corner, fighting for you and your well-being. 

i will be having a release of a collection of wearable art pieces from this larger art project at some point in the next couple weeks. these are full of intention and empathy and good medicine and i hope they find the human homes that need them. 

these are made entirely of charlotte facet cut glass seed beads, including 24k gold or sterling silver charlotte beads. they also contain pure copper for protection, faceted silver labradorite for connection to Ancestors and spirit world, faceted delicate moonstone in both peach and white for connection to natural rhythm and energy of the moon and all it's wisdom.

these hang about 4.5 inches on gold or surgical steel nickel free allergen friendly hooks. (these pairs have all sold)

 

cáxʷax̄. dripping down. (in x̄á’islak̓ala)
this one of a kind 10 inch pair of earrings is trying to express the feeling of carrying constant pain. constant hurt. the feeling of being drenched in it, soaking. heavy, slow, bogged down.

the way this constant pain has changed my entire life. my relationship, my friendships, my connection to family, my work, my home, my body.

the way this dark abyss of pain is not believed by doctors, by family, by friends or employers. the way some treat me like i deserve it. like i created it.

the way this slow, sludging eternal pain cannot be located, cannot be daylighted, cannot be yoga'd, dieted, shamed, therapized, supplemented, medicated, exercised or ignored away. the way this dark abyss cannot be just waited out.

when they tell me to come back when it's worse.. only to give me drugs that make it all worse.. only to do dozens of horrific painful tests that don't tell us anything.. only to tell me again to come back when it's worse..

the hopelessness. the shame and embarrassment. the vulnerability. the anger and rage.

the times i try to just grin and bear it, push through for people who won't relent. people i want to please, stay connected, only to pay for it with days and days of recovery.

the way my body tells me to stop. the way certain people trigger pain flares. the way i have to stop, leave, block.

this dripping pain.. constantly reminding me to be in each and every moment. to not turn away. to be vulnerable. to ask for help. to not self medicate. to be in it. to be here and alive.

this dripping pain.. showing me who my true friends and loved ones are. teaching me to not settle for anything less.

this dripping pain.. helping me to slow down.. sit with my heating pad.. breathe and cry through hard times.. focus on counting my beads one at a time.

my heart goes out to anyone else carrying these mysterious painful abysses also. 

 

this beaded work is based on the room i did my last ultrasound in. ultrasounds are something i have to do regularly to monitor what's going on inside me.. and they are almost always traumatic, incredibly painful, and confusing. they are invasive and scary.

these rooms are so anxiety inducing. the fear and danger feels like it lives in my bones. the lack of humanity and care feels familiar, and i often wonder if my Ancestors held similar feelings. being examined in uncaring, scientific ways.

by beading this room in abstract, fuzzy, reductive shapes i am trying to portray the confusion; feeling like you can't really see straight, can't really tell what's going on or what's going to happen.

by adding the abstract red and black and crystals, i am trying to show the fear and pain that pours out of this room. how that feels more real to me, i can see that clearly. it has more depth and texture.

how these neutral, sterile spaces can actually hold such deep fear and pain. how these spaces are designed to make you feel nothing, and yet i feel everything.. powerless, afraid, alone, vulnerable, embarrassed, searing pain, tears, crying in front of lab techs. a kleenex tossed at me at the end. left alone to clean myself up, to get back to acting like the nothing that this room wants.

by beading these, i am trying to reclaim it, transform it. explain the feelings in ways that words don't. explore my feelings around Ancestral pain, pain memory, familiar feelings.. and reflect it back

these are 9.5 inches long, made with about 20 different types of beads. these contain labradorite for connection to spirit world, copper for protection, carnelian for courage, swarovski jet black bicones to bring in light.

 you can view my artist talk about myself and this project here: https://youtu.be/7l2LdAXOoQo