Making art is difficult in its own right; making art about one’s personal journey with chronic pain and illness demands a different kind of skill – an unflinching willingness to look at and portray over and over some of the darkest, most private parts of the human experience. After being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome following a car accident in 2010, it took me a long time to learn to not shy away from the difficult, the upsetting, the disturbing and the intimate – and to instead embrace it and make an honest attempt to visually communicate the nature of life with severe chronic physical pain.
Drawing heavily from personal experience, my sculptural work is a sustained meditation on what happens to people when they fall from the realm of the living into the kingdom of the sick by way of chronic pain and illness. Pain is a destructive fiendish monster that threatens to and often succeeds in annihilating the self. It shatters the relationship between the body and soul; at worst it shifts the balance until a person becomes nothing more than lump of twisted flesh. Lacking means of ascent, the shadow beings I depict are floating, unhinged from the earthly world – desperately creating an existence from the flotsam and jetsam of ruin and disease – fashioning meaning and subsistence from whatever remnants they can find. They exist – the work exists – (I exist) – in all their flaws – proof that life in the kingdom of the sick exists – and that there is both beauty and meaning amidst the chaos.
Samantha Wickman grew up in Massachusetts. She studied ceramics and English literature at Connecticut College and graduated with a BA in 2008. She also spent time abroad studying ceramics at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland and received a Masters in library science from Simmons College in 2013. After finishing her BA, she moved to the Boston area and began taking classes and workshops at Mudflat Studio in Somerville. Samantha has been an active member of the Mudflat community, participating in group shows and sales throughout the year. She has recently started showing her sculptural work in various group shows across the country.
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