I started painting these portals late last winter. It was around when I started some really critical medications & supplements for my long covid and when I was also the sickest. I wasn't sure if any of them were going to work, and a lot of the most useful ones needed to be slowly titrated up to the therapeutic dose. I'm nearly at the therapeutic doses, 9 months later, my baseline has definitely improved, but I'm still a far cry from where I was before I got covid. That being said, there aren't any medications actually FDA approved for my condition. A lot of these are experimental and/or off label, come with some pretty sucky side effects, and are pretty expensive (insurance doesn't cover everything). The portals were a way to process all of this.
But I'm endlessly grateful for the privileges I do have, especially that I even have medical care available to me. One of the more insidious cruelties of the endless bombing, displacement, and cutting off from the rest of the world that the people of Gaza have experienced for the last 65(+) days is the subsequent and systemic lack of health care - from bombing hospitals and killing health care workers and sick and disabled people to the impossibility of getting much needed medications, anesthesia, medical supplies, etc into Gaza. Infections and disease are killing people, too. This is all part of the plan, this is how genocide works, and it is indisputably horrifying.
Someone was comparing the events of October 7 to what happened here on Sep 11, and while they were talking about the horrors committed/witnessed in Israel, I think actually a clearer parallel lies in the responses. The xenophobic, nationalistic, revenge-filled hate towards a large group of people/country/religion and the inability to see the nuance that the "revenge" is so far out of line with what originally happened. To be clear, I don't condone revenge, I'm just working out the metaphor here. And of course, there are limits to the metaphor, and it doesn't quite align in the way that the people of Palestine have been living under apartheid oppression for decades and generations.
My portals are a gateway, a transport to another dimension. Not necessarily one where I'm suddenly healed and "back to normal."
Regardless (and to paraphrase Nicki Kattoura's moving and heartbreaking Instagram post from December 10, 2023 - see below), every time I take my meds, I think about Gaza. It's the least I can do. We must sustain our horror and our hope for an end to this. And to all genocides. If this is the match that lit your flame of radicalism or if you've been burning long and hard, maybe for decades, don't let the cynicism, the comfort we have here, or the fear put out your light. Every time you find another comrade, the fire burns brighter. Someday our blaze will outshine the real terrorists: the war criminals, the nuclear zealots, the fascists, the oligarchs.
My portals are a gateway, a transport to another dimension. Not necessarily one where I'm suddenly healed and "back to normal." Yes, in moments of despair and grief, I do want that, but in clearer moments, what I want is to exist in another dimension where my energy-limiting disabilities aren't a limitation but an adaptation or even an advantage. Where I can thrive at this slower pace. Where my disabilities become new abilities, and all the grief I have transforms into knowledge and wisdom. Through the portal, ableism is extinct, and everyone is valued and necessary and vital to creating a place that accommodates everyone.
*This* portal, though, is a way to push those visions even further. Through this portal, there is an end to genocide and apartheid. Permanently, lastingly. Conflicts are resolved through reconciliation and finding shared understanding, not through war, terror, military might, and force.
If you want to see this portal and the other 109 portals, they are on exhibition in the Currents: Adaptation, Brilliance, and Joy show, up through February 25, 2024, at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.