On a Monday morning, early in August 2015, I was putting on my lipstick when I realized that my mouth wasn't in the right place and the whole left side of my face was drooping. Thinking I was having a stroke, we called 911 and an ambulance took me to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. To my relief, I was immediately diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, a temporary paralysis of the facial nerve on one side of the face. I was told that, with time, the condition usually just goes away.

The Bell's Palsy, while not painful, was quite disturbing as it distorted my appearance. In place of my usual smile, I could produce only a frighteningly crooked grimace. I knew that my doctors and physical therapist were taking good care of my body. I also knew that as a visual artist I had the tools to heal the rest of me. So from the start, I took photos of myself to document any progress and to create material for making art. I composed my collages combining the distorted left half of my sad self portraits with an image of the healthy right side of my face. In the artworks I added text in the present tense to describe different aspects/symptoms of my Bell's Palsy.

By creating art I was able to soften the distress I was feeling at the time and refocus my attention on something positive. I honestly don't know if, in the future, I could make art out of a life-threatening health condition or one that caused me chronic pain and disability. I hope I am never tested.

My Left Face ‐ Hound DogMy Left Face ‐ Hound Dog
collage: digital photos, satin drafting film
10 x 10 inches

"Bell's Palsy gives me a half droopy face and I keep hearing Elvis Presley's voice in my head"

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