Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Outside Looking In--Exploration of Perceptions

I've been thinking a lot lately about my perceptions of my body.

I still plan on doing a lot of knitting, but I'm going to be working a lot of stuff out in my head with embroidery for a while.
I'm thinking beyond "body image" to the mental pictures I carry with me of my own inner workings--bones, organs, chemicals.

After the deaths of my brother and two of his children in the last year (and also the recent death of my brother-in-law) I have really wanted to know what it means to have a body, especially my own. I also want to think about how my perceptions of my body affect its function and how its function affect my perceptions.

I used to work in a medical laboratory. When drawing a woman's blood once, she was greatly concerned about the color of blood in the vial. "Is it that dark because I drink too much?" she asked. I told her that it was venous blood and the dark color was normal. "What color would it be if I were drinking too much?" she asked. I told her it would probably be the same. I couldn't, however, convince her, even after showing her specimens from other people, that her blood looked normal. To her, it looked dark because she drank too much beer.

How do I see my own body systems? I mostly picture them as two-dimensional drawings. I picture brightly colored digestive organs--a bright green gallbladder with a dashed outline indicating that it has been removed. My brain is always a sideways pen and ink drawing. (As seen in my last post.) Chemicals and hormones are always candy colored.
Today's exploration is dedicated to my lungs. Due to panic attacks/allergies/asthma, I always think of my lungs as tiny and funereal blue. The perfect little baby balloons that fill with air are missing. The diaphragm is always a thinly sliced sliver instead of the strong sheet of muscle.


Stabbed! said...

Love the lungs! As I've had at least 8 weeks of bronchitis (so far!) this winter, I'd should be "celebrating" that part of my body. I've been brain-obsessed ( just search on brain on my site and you'll see) for too long. You might also like David Byrne's embroideries on upholstery, if you haven't seen them (, the rock star); a little like yours in approach.

Kelly said...

Seriously cool project. I recently started physical therapy after breaking my arm, and have a great therapist who explains what's going on inside - bones, tendons, lymph system - as he's working. It's fascinating.

karla said...

your embroidery is beautiful. i'm a massage therapist and am constantly learning about the human body and my own. i knit too. your honesty and interpretation is truly inspirational.

Della said...

Good words.