Monday, August 29, 2016

My Experience With painting number 11 "Chopping Wood"

I am writing this on August 25th, 2016. It is nearing 10:00 am and I find myself at a desk. I cannot help but to feel as though the layers of my ego are being peeled away from the nature of this project, leaving me here, with no claim, naked, waiting for the divine to illuminate my path. Leaving my inner most thoughts on the page is a confused gesture, which I pray, in a non-conforming way, will provide you with the emotional toll this project has taken, and will continue to take, on Allen and myself. The closer we come to completion, the more daunting, overwhelming, and scary, the reality of it all becomes, from my point of view.

We finished the third painting several days ago. I have only just summoned the wherewithal to write about. I arrived at Allen’s early in the morning. I met two of his interns, both splendid people, and we went to have brunch. We shared a meal and intellectual conversation. I posited my disposition, during this conversation, of art and the purpose it should serve in civic and political society, the substance of which I do not want to share at this time. Allen offered his own wisdom. After arriving back at Allen’s house, I began writing the first draft of the second painting while Allen worked with Fayre, his intern, to prepare the canvas that would be used later in the day.

Writing this first draft was such a difficult task. To write a story, fiction or otherwise, is to put myself inside the headspace of another, and explore their realms of understanding and the respective nature of experiences that coincide, and relinquish all, back on the page. A day will come, when you will understand the true nature of what Allen has lived through, and perhaps, myself. I finished this draft in a cloud of delirium. I had to take a nap. During this time, Allen continued showing his intern the artistic ropes.

Several days before this day, I received word from Allen, that another artist, a filmmaker and photographer, wanted to get involved in this project. I was reminded, once more, about the universal reach of this project. Cheryl, the filmmaker and photographer, is the women who took pictures of us some days before for this project. She arrived sometime later, after I awoke. Allen, Cheryl, and Fayre, and myself went into the studio.

Allen rolled the cameras and we were off. There was a bizarre calmness in the space for this session. The subject matter was horrid, but, in comparison to others, it was rather lighthearted, which is a rather damning thing to say. Allen, with his passionate flare and thoughtful strokes, began painting and narrating. I expected him to make quick work of this painting, due in part, to a personal breakthrough he had achieved hours before, from a heartfelt and retrospective conversation we had. Allen gained a corollary view into the relationship he had with Mary, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, and through this, Allen discerned what impact this had on his emotional development and intimate relations.

The canvas continued taking shape, with such vivid and bright colors. After careful strokes and intelligent color which culminated into several fleeting moments of immense intensity, we took a brief intermission to switch recording devices. During this time, I took note of Cheryl’s expression, who was sitting to my left, and Fayre, who was sitting to my right. I would describe their faces as dumbfounded with curiosity or interest. Their presence in the space added a calm and balance, I suppose.

The cameras started rolling once more as Allen mustered what he had left and dipped back into the past. There are two things that must be mentioned that proceeded our intermission. The first is Allen unearthing a truth that had been lost in time and memory; the incident that provoked Allen’s furious bewilderment while cutting the wood and his envisioning the wood he was chopping as Mr. Morgan’s head. Moments before the subject matter of this painting took place, in which Allen was 12 or 13, and the abuse from the Morgan’s had subsided, his father had tasked him to chop wood. When Allen went to do so, he saw the kids of the neighborhood, including the Morgan girls. They began making fun of Allen and jested the size of his penis. Allen asked how they could possibly know such a thing. The Morgan girls responded by saying they had pictures of it. This is what caused Allen’s confusion and precipitated him to chop to wood while in a fantasy of killing Mr. Morgan, all in confusion. Allen worked through this revelation aloud while painting.

The second the event worth mentioning occurred moments after the first. Allen picked up an axe he had in his basement without warning. I said to myself “Is he about to chop the painting?”. I was astounded, when Allen, began painting with the axe. Painting axes with an axe. It painfully clever. The axe is representative of certain aspect of Allen’s artistic character, something I believe he can elaborate on more. Even more so was Allen’s inclination for precise intro and retrospection into the times of abuse and it’s causation on his mental state today. This is the way of the artist, in my eyes; rendition, through a chosen medium, the world around and how it is braided with the world within, and from the cyclical symbiosis, the artist, in the thick of their learned and paradoxical endeavors, ebbs and flows, from their self to the world and back, manifesting what they so choose, until the flame within, burns out.   
Allen Vandever painting a flash back 
about chopping wood with an axe
Alan Vandeveer Contemporary Great Chicago artist Chicago art

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Experience of painting number 6 "Murder"

The task at hand is to articulate the exhilaration of creating the second painting in our series. And before I begin, I must say, the depths of the human soul, no matter how morbid, is a remarkable place to explore.
I arrived at Allen’s home around 2:00 pm. The weather was weighted with humidity, but my mind was much heavier. The entire morning, before my arriving at Allen’s, was spent writing about the sexual abuse from my childhood. This was the first time I have ever done such a thing and if were not for this project, I would have never broached it.
Allen and I exchanged pleasantries and I took a seat. I pulled out my laptop and began transferring my sexual abuse piece from notebook to word document. Allen’s son, Walter, came downstairs and asked his father: Can we go to the park? Allen being the father he is, took his son. He could see I was writing and was keen on the tumultuous nature of it and allowed me to stay at his place and finish my work. I finished transferring the piece from my notebook in about half an hour and by this time, Allen and Walter returned home.
I asked Allen to read my piece in an emotional daze. I tried removing myself from this pensive state of self-absorption. Around the time Allen finished reading my piece, I was back here. He told me the piece was well written and he was proud of me. As a writer, hearing the words “well written” or “nicely written”, depending on your current state of mind, ooze from a readers mouth like welcomed silk. But, when dealing with such ugly subject matter, crafting something of aesthetic value is less of a concern. This is an ongoing conversation between Allen and I, which I will elaborate on some other time.
Allen’s wife, Dawn, arrived home shortly after this, to watch Walter, while we went into Allen’s studio to paint. Allen had already prepared the canvas earlier in the day. The studio was a bit in shambles from the previous session when the rain flooded it. We began shifting various items around to provide us with a more comfortable work space. I picked up a can of red paint, and much to my surprise, it splattered all over the floor and my shoes. Now, in all likelihood, this was my mistake. But a modicum of me believes spilling this paint was either a wonderful coincidence or an act of divine providence. Either way, me spilling the paint only added to the already boiling levity of the experience, of the art.
Allen laughed it off and began using the paint to color some of his painted jackets. I thought nothing of it, at first, but Allen had different ideas altogether. After this, Allen started rolling the camera and provided a monologue, and once again, I fell enamored. After our last experience in this space, and the overwhelming emotion invoked by it, I was expecting much the same, if not a more nuanced outlook on some of Allen’s childhood terrors. We took a deep, collective breath and Allen began painting and narrating with clairvoyant intricacy.
He started, with brush in hand, picking spots on the canvas. This piece had less to do with sexual abuse and more to do with the visceral and cunning nature of one of Allen’s abusers. He began with heavy strokes and a heavy heart. He was painting with such an intelligent fury. I was taken aback by his courage. He arranged those involved in this memory on the canvas, by strong brush, and with vivid color. My breathing grew heavy. I felt as though i was Allen as a little boy in this horrible place.
Allen continued channeling through paint and brush, maneuvering through his memory. The darkness of the experience became more magnified. While Allen continued painting, I caught a glimpse of his feet through his sandals. He has scars on them from a surgery he had as a child. He once told me about them, and how terrible the pain was. I fell into a moment of profundity as Allen continued on the canvas. I saw him progressing through the stages of his life. I felt his spirit growing with strength. From that young boy who was tortured and victimized by the most grotesque of people, into the man, the father, the husband, the friend he is today. A man of character.
A moment came, in which I though Allen had finished painting, but, he had other ideas. Allen took control of the space, the painting, and himself. Mr. Morgan, Allen’s most prolific abuser, took Allen’s left hand and put it in a pool of blood, when Allen was child, and told Allen’s childhood self – “This blood is on your hands”. This is when my perception of this experience took a powerful turn. Either consciously or sub-consciously, Allen was aware at how damaging that particular moment with Mr. Morgan had been, and put his hand in the red paint I spilled earlier and left his hand print on the painting. I watched the boy who was so brutally tortured, declare to himself, and the world, he has taken back his power.

Than in frantic and creative pace, he put his left hand in the remaining pant and began moving through the canvas. By this point Allen was no longer speaking, but, we could hear each other’s thoughts or at least feel each other’s presence. Allen’s breathing intensified, and he began attacking the shape of Mr. Morgan with his left hand, with an indomitable conviction. After the paint had finished, Allen through down his supplies and stormed out of the room. I could feel the emotional anguish the painting caused him. We had a brief conversation afterwards, an Allen looked ill again. As if he was coming down with the flu. Allen pulled courage from his well of inspiration, and in kind, borrowed me some of his plentiful resource. I remember, very vividly, Allen saying “No child should ever have to experience this.”

Chicago Contemporary Artist Allen Vandever paints his memories from child abuse 
Chicago art great art new art best art free art 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Working on Second Childhood Fractured Painting.

Working on Memories from Child abuse 
Allen Vandever Chicago Contemporary artist chicago art greatest painters

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My First Time Writing On My Childhood Sexual Abuse

Through my rigorous, and on-going study, in academia and of my own volition, of literary technique, literary theory as it relates to post-structuralism and Derrida’s Deconstruction, of which my knowledge is limited, The New Critics, The New York intellectuals, De man, and many others, of which my knowledge is also limited, and the ephemeral quality of the text in relation to the reader and the author, and to be more succinct, what language’s relationship is to human existence, has resulted in my growth as a human being and as a writer. I have made the sovereign decision to dedicate my life to arranging words and in the process I hope to arrange myself. And in that sentiment, I have found an agonizing and horrific irony. I am nurturing my ability to craft pieces of fiction for the enjoyment of others yet I am possessed of the inability to write directly about being sexually abused as a child.

Through years of repressing the fact that I was sexually abused, an agonizing chasm has formed, in my memory, that has been left for me to trudge. How can this be? How can a person who has dedicated their life to the word be eluded by them all? This post was very painful. Having to arrange words, cognizant that they are being arranged in order to re-create or convey my sexual abuse, is one of the most agonizing experiences of my life. And I know that these streams of convoluted emotions are temporary and the essence of myself, that I am attempting to capture in this moment, will miss the mark, is in itself, painful. But, I am obligated to myself, to provide the following; my best attempt at a brief narration of a moment in my childhood where I was sexually abused. The following three paragraphs is my first time writing about my sexual abuse in detail. Here goes nothing.

It must have been late September or early October. Of course, I cannot be certain, however, when I delve into the corridors of my memory, I see those autumn leaves; those beautiful autumn leaves, colored anywhere between red and orange. It was morning and I had just awoken to the girl whispering in my ear. She always seemed to be a playful and curious spirit. I opened one eye than the other. Her freckled face and blue eyes were staring right at me. I can’t recall saying much. I can’t recall ever saying much, I can only recall lying there. There was commotion coming from outside of our shared bedroom. It was my mother and the man, I believe she was dating. And this girl was the man’s daughter. Bear in mind I was 7 and the girl was at least 12. While this yelling stole my attention, the girl hopped into my bed, as she usually did. And began undressing and playing with genitals. I do not remember resisting. I only remember feeling a sense of prolonged estrangement.

This must have gone on for about ten minutes, when my mother burst into the room to prepare me for school. She saw us there, together, in my bunk, which was the top bunk of our bunk bed. She proceeded to scream. I am not sure who the frustration was directed at, but knowing my mother, she wanted nothing more than to protect me. My mother separated us, got me dressed, and yelled up a storm at everyone. For those of who have mothers, I am sure you know how intimidating it is to hear your mother yell when you are a child. Especially if you think the yelling is directed at you. In retrospect, I know she was yelling at the girl and her father. She finished preparing me and we were on the way. All the while I felt as though I had betrayed my mother, the girl, or crossed some moral or ethical boundary, but I didn’t. I was just a boy.

On the car ride to school, I remember sitting there, listening to my other talk to me. I didn’t know what she was saying but she seemed concerned. This girl had been abusing me for nearly 2 years and I think she was beginning to put the pieces together. My mother dropped me off at school, gave me a kiss on the cheek, told me how special I was, and was on her way. That school day had somber overtones. I kept replaying the events of that morning, in an attempt see where I had gone wrong. And again in hindsight, I know I did nothing wrong, but the moral implications of events, either implicit or explicit in them, are difficult to discern as a child. After this day, my memory goes grey for some time. I do know, my mother moved us from where we were living, and I feel as though I never saw the girl again.

I know this isn’t the most horrific or gut-wrenching of sexual abuse stories. And is nothing compared to what many people, including my friend Allen, have lived through. But, this doesn’t make my experience invalid and if you experienced anything terrible, it does not make your experience invalid either. For me, it is difficult to gauge what impact this particular experience has had one my emotional and mental growth. I had two other abusers in my life. And I am not yet ready to write about them, but in time, and through the strength I draw from this project, I know I will feel compelled too. I wrote this in shame but the sun is shining today. I feel stronger. I know this post will be lost with time, tucked away in some corner of the internet, maybe seen by a few or many, I am not sure, but, I do know that I wrote it. I do know that I was sexually abused, and I am beginning to understand that I am okay with that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First painting of Childhood Fractured project painting number 9 The Devil

So I have painted the first painting of my Memories from Childhood Sexual Abuse here are some photos of the process 

This has been a very emotional process I hope putting my self threw this will help others.
Allen Vandever contemporary Chicago Artist Chicago art great art

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Moment of Inspiration painting number 9 The Devil

I am writing this on August 12th, 2016. It is nearing 5:00 pm. I have been looking out of the window of this cafe at the rather dreary sights of city. A grey has overcome it all. The homeless people in the park are fleeing for cover from a tremendous downpour. So are the pigeons. After rummaging through, what I perceive as, the rigid complexities of my mind, I have only just mustered the courage to elucidate on my experience this morning. As some of you may know, Allen and myself, began “Childhood Fractured” almost two weeks ago. Since the projects inception, Allen and myself have started a blog for the project, compiled research on childhood sexual abuse, created a Facebook page, and discussed, at length, Allen’s life story. Discussing Allen’s life story has provided me with invaluable insight into who Allen is, how he thinks etc. And will allow me to craft more precise stories for this project. In the process, we have bonded by exploring the atrocities of sexual abuse we experienced as children and how those atrocities have manifested themselves in our respective adult persons.
Until this morning, we hadn’t started the artwork itself. I had no idea how emotionally charged and daunting this work would truly be. To look another person in the eyes and share with them your most horrifying experiences, with no guarantee as to how they will receive it, takes a certain amount of courage in itself. To create artwork based on those horrifying experiences, to be put on display for everyone’s eyes to see, judge, critique, and analyze, I dare say, takes an entire different category of courage. This morning I gained the slightest glimpse into that courage. I must admit, on the way over to Allen’s house, I was full of nervous excitement. I had no idea what to expect, what emotions would arise. Prior to this day, we agreed, for the sake of the art, that we would attempt to combine our creative process. The agreement was Allen would be painting while narrating the subject matter of the painting; something that he has never done before. And I would take notes and absorb the experience and begin crafting the story. We did just that.
We began with Allen introducing himself to the camera that was filming us. And after a brief introduction, Allen began imprinting his memory of a particular experience onto the canvas as I took rigorous notes while absorbing as much as possible. I was astounded by the grotesque nature of the subject matter. I was even more astounded by Allen’s courage. It took some serious courage to conceive a project such as this, nonetheless do it. He continued painting with strokes of bravery. The emotional tension of the space grew. With each stroke of his brush and with each heavy word, the painting began to take on a life of its own. And in this moment, I gained insight into what we are truly doing. Allen continued on, forging and speaking. Spilling out his soul in a way I have never seen a person do. He started painting faster and with more fury. And then, without notice, moments before the awesomeness of this experience reached new heights, a shriek of thunder and lightning could be heard tremoring the earth. It broke our collective moment. This was followed by immense rainfall. It was as if the gods were weeping. The basement began flooding and we scurried move Allen’s belongings to prevent damage.

Afterwards, we briefly discussed some things and I was on my way. I could see in Allen the emotional toll painting this experience had taken. He looked weak and lightheaded. As if he had come down with an illness. I commended him even more for his bravery afterwards. Today, I truly felt as though what I am doing, what we are doing, is a good thing. If the proceeding moments of creation are at all similar, you will have some stellar artwork fashioned from the souls of two men. As I finish writing this, I look outside. The sun peaked out its head briefly and then disappeared back behind the grey. I know the Sun is there. It will come out soon enough. Mother Nature back at it with the symbolism.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bloody Sunday

 This is a work that I made for "BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE" A Benefit for AMELIA BOYNTON ROBINSON, the oldest surviving civil rights leader. this is one of the works that was inspired by the life of Amelia. Amelia passed away last year 106. Amelia is one of the people being beaten in this image she was in a coma for a week from this incident. Amelia Boynton Robinson is perhaps best known as the woman at the front of the march who was gassed, beaten, and left for dead on Edmund Pettus Bridge, during the “Bloody Sunday” march on March 7, 1965 to Montgomery, Alabama, which quickly led to the mushrooming of the civil rights movement into an international mass movement.

Bloody Sunday 5ft by 3ft Historic photos manipulated in Photoshop with optical patterns drawn over them then epoxy, pigments,glitter, acrylic, and metallic car paint applied over top of thatAmelia Boynton Robinson (born August 18, 1911) is an American woman who was a figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was one of the leaders of the “Bloody Sunday” march on March 7, 1965 that led to the right to vote for black people. Chicago artist great art chicago Allen Vandever Alan Vandever.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Please Take a Minute and Like Our New Facebook Page

We would greatly appreciate it if you went to our Facebook page and hit the like button and share it. Thank you for helping us grow our audience. You are making a difference and are helping us do the same. We thank you for the support and allowing us to break the silence for our childhood sexual abuse. We can make a difference.

Here is a link to our Facebook Page

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Look Back

When I was twelve and chopping wood, I remember fantasizing about killing Mr. Morgan and his wife. They were my neighbors. They were my abusers. I broke down in tears of confusion and horror. I didn’t know why I was having these thoughts. I was still in denial about my abuse. Shortly after this experience, I discovered alcohol. Alcohol made me feel better. Alcohol made me forget. It worked for a while. Around the same, I discovered working out and playing football also helped. After high school, I went to college to play football. While playing football, I sustained a spinal injury. Afterwards I got in trouble for drinking and had to go to alcohol classes were they suggested I start counseling. This was the best thing that ever happened to me. Within in a few sessions the abuse started to surface. My counselor suggested that I start seeing another consoler who specialized in child abuse. I saw this new consoler for almost four years on a weekly bases. During this time I read every book I could find on human sexuality, sexual abuse, religion, and philosophy.  I also became very involved in a campus organization called “Choices”. This was a group that helped educate students to live healthy life styles. There were two things I did that I felt were very important to me and others. One was starting “Varaw” Violence Acquaints Rape Awareness Week, which is still active at my university. The second was a series of painting with short stories that was shown in the main gallery. Threw all of this I went from a victim to a survivor.

Opening Up

In the spirit of disclosure, I was fucking nauseous writing the following post. I delved into the one of darkest crevices of my being, and will continue to do so, in the spirit of this project. I only ask you to keep this mind as you follow this project.

I was sexually abused as a child. I am utterly astounded in having just put that sentence on the page and the individual progress that it implies. I know this post will be seen, in whatever capacity, on the blog and social media. As this project continues to gain traction, I know strangers, friends, and family will know, I, Derek Hopkins, was sexually abused as a child. To me it is rather profound to have manifested the courage to admit this fact. And I reiterate a sentiment a shared several days ago; this project has had a liberating effect on me.

I was inclined to keep my childhood sexual abuse a secret for the majority of my life. It was as if I had struck a baleful pact with those who have victimized me to never speak on what they did to me. It was as though I wanted to protect them in the most perverted of manners. I was indirectly providing them with anonymity, allowing them to continue on with their lives unscathed, and potentially victimizing more children.

As an adult, as a person who is constantly growing emotionally and spiritually, I am cognizant that sharing my experiences as act of righteous or pious vengeance, as a proverbial witch-hunt to bring shame on those who victimized me, will only be internecine. I want to grow as a person and as an artist. I want to learn from my experiences. I even want to forgive my abusers in my own way and in my own time which I figure to be a lifelong process. But even in that, it represents progress.

I am doing this project to bring awareness to childhood sexual abuse. It is impossible to gauge what impact will come from Allen and I opening ourselves up. As this project moves along, I will tell the stories of my sexual abuse and allow access to my most intimate thoughts in relation to sexual abuse. How I have carried and will continue to carry this allegorical pain, and what I have to do on a daily basis to prevent those demons of time from consuming me.  

Please share your thoughts and feelings below. And make sure to follow us!  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Allen Vandever's Early Art Work. 2008

To paint ones dreams was my goal for most of my artistic courier. In 2008 I finally reached a level in painting that I was able to paint what I saw in my dreams. 

This is one of my first successful dream paintings. I feel as though it accurately captures the essence of the woman who inhabits all my dreams, present since pre-pubescence. Her persona is amorphous. She is a confidant, friend, and ever-different but always recognizable lover. She knows and is every woman I have ever loved, so perhaps, the only woman I have ever loved. This painting is my attempt to express her divinity to the realm of the world without dreams. Often, I find her there, standing beside me, her face similar to mine, filled with the glow of every color.
Sono io in the feminine form, Beatrice herself, and I, Virgil. A self-portrait of a kind, an understanding finally grasped after further introspection and analysis. My dreams move me to paint; painting urges me to reflect through the pen. To write about such things is to lose one’s self in the silence of exploring the mind, exploring what it means to be a human being living somewhere within the expansive range of self and humanity. This sequence of events illustrates the importance of the process of self-analysis, also teaching us that knowledge is boundless. Chicago art Chicago artist Contemporary artist great art new art live art

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Resources and References

General Information:

Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse:

  • National Child Abuse Hotline: They can provide local referrals for services. A centralized call center provides the caller with the option of talking to a counselor. They are also connected to a language line that can provide service in over 140 languages. Hotline: 800.4.A.CHILD (422.2253)
  • Darkness to Light: They provide crisis intervention and referral services to children or people affected by sexual abuse of children. Hotline calls are automatically routed to a local center. Helpline: 866.FOR.LIGHT (367.5444)
  • Cyber Tipline: This Tipline is operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Can be used to communicate information to the authorities about child pornography or child sex trafficking. Hotline: 800.THE.LOST (843.5678)
  • National Children’s Alliance: This organization represents the national network of Child Advocacy Centers (CAC). CACs are a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, mental and physical health practitioners who investigate instances of child physical and sexual abuse. Their website explains the process and has a directory according to geographic location.
  • Stop It Now: Provides information to victims and parents/relatives/friends of child sexual abuse. The site also has resources for offender treatment as well as information on recognizing the signs of child sexual abuse. Hotline: 888-PREVENT (773.8368)
  • Justice for Children: Provides a full range of advocacy services for abused and neglected children.
  • Resources for Male Survivors of Sexual Assault:

  • 1in6 (for men sexually abused as children): Provides educational information and resources for men, family and friends, and professionals. Also provides access to the online hotline.
  • This site has articles that discuss the effects of child sexual abuse on adult men and their loved ones.
  • This site has information and a therapist search for male survivors of sexual violence.

    • Men Can Stop Rape: Men Can Stop Rape seeks to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.
    • Cyber Bullying Research Center: A clearinghouse for information regarding cyberbullying.
    For International Resources, please click here.
    For statistics on Sexual Assault, please click here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Who Is Derek Hopkins

My name is Derek Hopkins. I am enrolled as an undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago in the Creative Writing program and I am taking classes as a Student-At-Large at Northwestern University. I am a passionate writer. My art is centered on exploring the human condition and the societal reality of America. I expound on American axioms such as Racism, Classism, Sexism, White Oppression and Privilege and their relation to the human experience. I approach every day with grace for it is a new opportunity to grow and learn. I am endeavoring to master the craft of writing to provide a bold and new voice in contemporary society. I am currently writing a social novel about the contemporary American ghetto entitled “Orphaned to the Street”.
Contemporary Multimedia Artist Allen Vandever approached me to work on the “A Childhood Fractured” project. We met working on another project. After noticing my ability to write, he pulled me aside one day and asked: Are you interested in working on this project with me? I agreed after he provided a brief outline of the project; paintings paired with short stories. The following day we had a meeting. I was in the dark and had no idea what to expect. At this meeting, he went on to explain that he was sexually abused as a child in the most horrific manner and that he wanted to reconstruct these experiences through painting and storytelling. I was shocked by Allen’s bravery and courage. Profound emotions swelled inside of me. I was hurled into a brief moment of self-absorption while maintaining a poised exterior. I was also sexually abused as a child. I have really failed to mention it to anyone throughout my life. It has been one of my darkest secrets. A secret I thought will never be unearthed and will go with me to the grave. Throughout my life, if anyone so much as mentioned “sexual abuse”, a cold shrill would crawl up and down my spine and I would spiral deep into my own mind. I was scared. I thought the healthiest solution was to repress my experience in hopes that it will go away. It was not going away; it was corroding me from this inside. So I told him about my about my sexual abuse. I felt compelled to do so in the most positive manner. In the moment those words left my mouth, I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I felt as though I could breathe again. As if I could stand up straight and look people in the eye. Allen’s bravery to show the world what he has been through inspired me to do this same. And from that point forward we have been endeavoring to bring “A Childhood Fractured” to you.

Allen inspired me to tell my story and to bring “A Childhood Fractured” to life. This is a microcosm of what we want to accomplish with “A Childhood Fractured”. One person telling another person how they have been victimized and abused. And the intimate and powerful bond that ensues. The ability to take power back, to not feel ashamed and scared. To not live in isolation and find power in sharing your experiences with the world.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Artist statement and Bio Allen Vandever Chicago Artist

Hello! My name is Allen Vandever. For those of you who don’t know me, I am contemporary Artist Based out of Chicago. I am a father, husband, and a son. Family and friends are very important to me. I have lived my life with the goal of making every year worthy of a good movie or a great book. I take risks, embrace adventure and live life to the fullest. And as a result, I have many wonderful stories. 

My childhood was unusual. I was raised by three different families and lived in 12 different cities. I was victim of sexual abuse and have been dealing with that trauma ever since. I was also fiscally handicapped, however, I managed to make the most of my childhood. My life has been fulfilling and worth living. 

I have a very diverse work and life experience; college football, farm hand on a cattle ranch, curator and manager of art galleries, started my own religion, art editor for a women spirituality magazine, accidentally became manager of a S&M leather store on Burden Street, worked in a hospice,  and ran a successful import business. I later went to a yoga school until discovering the school was a front for a prostitution ring. I left shortly after this discovery.

I rubbed elbows with one of LA’s rock and roll elite who helped me sell my art. This allowed me to travel and live in Hawaii for a number of years where I had my first child.

I moved back to Chicago in 2008 to establish myself in the art world. After a lot of hard work, I have established myself as a major player in the Chicago art seen. I have been part of a few tech startups involving interactive clothing using NFC chips and QR codes.  I am now art director for a company that is using bitcoins to archive art.

 Artist Statement - I feel an artist’s body of work is his unwritten biography, archiving his progress in both craftsmanship and self-discovery, all the while capturing the most personal and essential moments in his life, and revealing his personal reflections.

In my painting, I feel free from the jumble of words all too limited in their ability to fully illustrate an image of my sensations and reflections. Painting is a way to bypass the filter of conscious analysis thus by-passing the point in which we attempt to name and catalog our responses, which often diminishes the true glory of the moment.

I am free to explore my dreams that are so intensely alive, they continue to permeate my vision in the material world. I have yet to find the words capable of illustrating such glorious visions, so I paint them in an attempt to relive them, and in that I endeavor to apply a pinprick into the veil between our worlds, allowing a speck of light to illuminate its existence to others. I aspire to reveal such worlds to my son, that the images from my journey inspire him to begin his own exploration, for a mere sliver of light is enough to bring the world gushing forth, demolishing the walls that confine our thoughts.

Although I fail to find the words to convey my passion, I cannot deny their role in my reflection, for words have allowed me to further explore the images I have been moved to create. When I write, I am transported into the silent realm of the mind, where the voices of human reason and passion can be heard in intimate conversation, contemplating the infinite dimensions of being.
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Monday, August 1, 2016

A lot of people have been reaching out to us and asking the question: What can I do to help? We compiled a list of things that you can do to make "A Childhood Fractured" reach its full potential! 

  • Share our blog on your social media accounts 
  •  Follow our blog and share your feelings and thoughts in the comment section
  • Break the silence! Please share your story's with us!
  • We will start fundraising in the near future to further bring this project into reality. Our plan is to raise money through grants, sponsorship, and individual contributions. Please contact us if you would like contribute in any way or know someone who wants to.
  • We will be looking for publishers as we near the completion of this project. If you have any resources, please feel free to contact us.
  • We are open for interviews and would love any form of press. If you or anyone you know is interested, please feel free to contact us! 
  • We are so grateful to all of you! We have a great deal of gratitude! Thank you all so much and...Godspeed!

 contact us at or leave a message in the comment section