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Happy Mother’s Day, from the He(art)

Lumen, Enlai and Spencer Finch piece

Lumen, Enlai and Spencer Finch piece

 

I have yearned for art over the last 365 days more than food, more than sleep, sometimes more than air. Just as I want my sons to appreciate art, to allow it to rouse or soothe them, to occasionally fall asleep or wake thinking of a particular artwork, to trust it when they can’t trust other humans or when they may doubt themselves, I have sought art to help me make sense. I have used it as my drink, my drug, my altar, my here and my now, and as a substitute for my if and when. It has served as my absolute over the past year.

My younger son Lumen is allergic to over 30 foods and has suffered anaphylactic reactions previously. While he did not suffer any this year, we found out he has new allergies. After the doctor informed me, we went from the hospital to an art gallery. After another doctor diagnosed him with asthma this year, following several A&E visits, two admissions and having to learn the difference between his four different inhalers, we went to an art gallery. Before and after Lumen’s many doctor appointments and various therapy sessions — occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, music therapy — for his autism, we visit art galleries and museums.

And when my older son Enlai has shown that his love of electronics in all forms seems stronger than his love of living, breathing beings, we go to art galleries. We discuss everything on the way to and from these galleries — religion, sport, literature, friendships, music, family, food. We talk about what an amazing, curious, funny thing life can be. He often gives me a difficult time because he’s not keen to go to a gallery, so we compromise. We go where he wants to go first — anywhere but the flat, in front of a screen — and then he indulges me with a gallery. And after we view the artworks, usually a few hours or a day later, he says thank you. Thank you for introducing him to something that made him think differently, that made him learn and value, that made him see possibilities.

Earlier this week, I went to a discussion between the artist Olafur Eliasson and Tim Marlow, the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director. I was touched by many of the things Eliasson related, including a couple of stories which pertained to children. He said that he believes his first leanings towards becoming an artist may have been after his parents divorced when he was eight years old. His father was an artist, and he thought that to win his attention, he would have to become a very good artist. He also said that when he was young, he was into breakdancing. He would walk around his house as if a robot, imitating breakdancing moves he had seen. Eliasson said that rather than tell him he was being ridiculous, his parents supported him. He spoke about their courage in championing their son in doing something nobody else they knew was doing, something that likely seemed very odd to other family and friends. And the artist noted that this is what parents should be doing — being their child’s or children’s advocates in whatever creative venture they decide to partake in.

I have no desire for either of my boys to become artists. I want them to become themselves. I want them to feel happy, to love and feel loved, to feel as though they have so much living to do, that they couldn’t possibly fit it all in in their lifetime. But I would like for them to understand that art is always there for them; it is a breathing creature full of stories, of adventures, of delicate gestures and horrid atrocities. It is full of tales of light and darkness, silence and screams, of madness, of bliss, of pleasure and pain that can only be depicted with a line or colour, form or space, rhythm or texture. Art is full of survival, of the ability to affect change. I want them to know that when artists such as Alberto Burri, a former doctor, and Sam Francis, who served in the US Air Force during World War II, sought to recover from and make sense of their worlds after the war, they both turned to art. I want them to be aware that there are countless artists who suffer from debilitating physical and mental illnesses, who rely on art to help them cope.

Enlai and Lumen know they can count on me for anything, including to be cheerleader extraordinaire for all their endeavours. And if they want something additional to depend on, and they decide to trust in art as I have, I hope they will remember with fondness the times we visited galleries together. I wonder whether Enlai will recall the moment we walked out of a gallery a few months ago, and he noticed me crying. He said, “You needed that, didn’t you, mom?” I responded, “Yep.” He said, “Art, huh?”. I said, “Yep. Art.” And we held hands and walked home.

This US Mother’s Day, I want to share with you some of the artworks that my boys and I have seen over the last year that have moved us, artworks that have given me air and optimism.

 

Enlai and Anish Kapoor piece

Enlai and Anish Kapoor piece

 

Lumen and Susan Hiller piece

Lumen and Susan Hiller piece

 

Enlai and Mert Alaş and Marcus Piggott piece

Enlai and Mert Alaş and Marcus Piggott piece

 

Lumen and teamLab piece

Lumen and teamLab piece

 

Enlai, Lumen and I and Clayton Campbell pieces

 

Enlai and Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach piece

Enlai and Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach piece

 

Lumen and Azra Aghighi Bakshayeshi piece

Lumen and Azra Aghighi Bakshayeshi piece

 

Enlai and Yuken Teruya piece

Enlai and Yuken Teruya piece

 

Lumen and Adam Basanta piece

Lumen and Adam Basanta piece

Category: Allergies, Art, Autism, General, This Parenting Stuff

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2 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    Lisha, you never cease to amaze me! You have the ability to draw in the reader of whatever you might write. Always exhibiting your incredible wealth of knowledge re: art, artists and life, with all of its’ beauty as well as incite into the fragility of individuals’ pain and suffering. I have always loved reading your words and having a peek into your “thoughts”. I am so very proud of the woman you are today, and would be remiss to not mention that you have become such an awesome mom to your two boys. How blessed they are to know that you are their mother…and with that, I wish you the very best Mother’s Day ever!! I love you so much!! Robin

  2. Tina Sotiriadi says:

    Lisha, Happy Mother’s Day! You have greatly touched me with your words and your deep insight into art and motherhood. You enrich our lives with your thoughts, strength and appreciation of art and motherhood, I am so grateful to have met you.

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