The Body Catalog is CSUSB’s new exhibit in the Visual Arts Gallery 106 showing now until May 31.
Rebecca Waring-Crane, first year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts, illustrates her rough journey through her art.
A few years ago, she began experiencing strange symptoms. Her doctor told her that these were similar to the symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease, commonly known as ALS. However, further tests revealed a treatable, non-terminal autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis.
“It was already in my mind. I took pictures after I was diagnosed, but I still didn’t see how the two would come together, my personal experience and the work that these artists did,” said Waring-Crane.
When asked when the idea for the exhibit came to her, Waring-Crane explains that it started over three years ago. In 2015, she chose to undergo surgery to reduce, or possibly stop, taking steroids for her symptoms.
She realized that surgery would scar her body, and wasn’t sure how to face this. One of the tools that usually helps her to process and cope is writing.
“But I didn’t even have words for what I was feeling, so I thought, I’ll use art. I realize that women have been taking pictures of themselves using their body for a long time and I can do that too,” shared Waring-Crane.
So she began taking pictures of herself.
“I still didn’t see how my personal experience and the work that these artists (Mendietta and Wilke) did would come together,” said Waring-Crane.
There wasn’t an overall clarity of having a solo show someday. That is until she took a glimpse at a room where her display now stands.
“The possibility was there, so I thought ‘Why not? Here’s a space. I have some art.’ It snuck up on me, the idea of having my own solo exhibit, “said Waring-Crane.
Entering the gallery, Waring-Crane is heard from a television monitor.
Her words swiftly capture a person’s attention and introduce them to her story.
As Waring-Crane writes in the statement for her show, The Body Catalog explores many themes such as “the geography of living while dying, the landscape of illness and aging, and ways one may participate in personal recovery and well-being.”
When people come to see her display, many leave notes in her book that is located near the door.
This creates a sense of connection with others that someone else has gone through a similar experience.
That’s what she wants students to know.
“It’s so important to honor your experiences as they are, the messy, imperfect, and painful. They are valuable. In a social media era, what you see is carefully curated and designed in certain ways creating this managed look. If your life isn’t that way, you start pretending your life is that way while your real life gets buried behind appearances,” shared Waring-Crane.
Life experiences create a bond with others and can be expressed in many forms just like The Body Catalog.
“Tell your story. Honor all of your story because some people want to hide the ugly parts and sometimes it’s too painful to do it right away, but give yourself time and perspective to accept it. And watch out for the lie that you don’t matter, because you do,” said Waring-Crane.