We entered the studio. Allen placed the primed canvas on the easel. Cheryl positioned the cameras into place. And I took my usual seat off the Allen’s left. We were there, intent. Intent as ever. Intent on finishing the next installment in our Childhood Fractured series. And without notice, amid the clamor of the setting up, Allen confessed he still didn’t know what he wanted to paint. I buzzed with curiosity. It was worn on my face. Cheryl must have caught it with her camera. How could he not know what he wanted to paint? The silence rolled on. It was broken by Allen explaining himself. The nature of the day, of the work, of this project has taken an emotional toll. A worthy toll. Allen’s creative hiccup was not due to lack of passion, desire, or commitment. It was due to the rigid complexities of our work. It is due to exploring, with creative intellect, the worst experiences, the worst days of his life.
“Piss or Crucifixion” Allen said, along with some other themes for the painting that have since been lost to my memory. There, on the stool, the word Crucifixion caught me. I looked at Allen and then Cheryl. “Crucifixion. Paint About Crucifixion” I blurted out. Allen nodded and took his place in front of the canvas.
After creating his pallet, Allen began by giving form to a cross with red strokes. He extended this form with yellows and other vibrant, contrasting colors. He carved away unhinged. As usual. Brave. Like another day at the office. But this, this is no ordinary office. And this is no ordinary work. We were moving through time. And Allen, through his colors. All the while narrating the subject matter of this piece. I watched him stumble several times on his memory recall. Allen provided succinct detail in our other sessions, however, this one was convoluted by complexity. Recalling any traumatic event to recreate it on a canvas, to say the absolute least, is very difficult. When the event being recalled is sexual abuse, the word 'difficult' does not suffice.
I continued soaking in this experience. Stroke after stroke after stroke until it was finished. It was over. My mind was swirling. The subject-matter of this painting was egregious. A synergy of raw emotion was flowing between us. Allen, full of exasperation, took a seat. He seemed to be out of character, displaced. Cheryl, still filming, asked Allen a question. The question seemed to have struck one of his chords. The question was about bringing the Morgan family (the family that sexually abused Allen) to justice. Allen balked at the question. He felt as though he was not doing enough. I assured Allen, and myself, we are doing all we can. We have finished the seventh painting. We are fashioning pieces of our soul into art to spread awareness on sexual abuse. To end sexual abuse. As time progresses, we are realizing how big this topic is. How much bigger this work is than we are. We just want to make the world a little less dark.
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