Gwynneth VanLaven

Stroke Hold (2013)
inkjet print
9 x 6 in.

In times of fear, in the face of rage, we look for anchor points. I am the survivor of a road rage. Almost a decade ago I was disabled after being crushed under a car as I walked on a sidewalk. I have worked with fear as a theme in my artwork since (2012) . For us all, NOW we should fear. For so many humans right now, both in body, in asylum, in terms of basic freedoms, danger zooms past just as cars do as speeding bullets.

In symbol and service of resilience, I rescue traffic cones and barrels who were abandoned to rot in a median, tossed asunder in a tar field, or dragged under a truck on an interstate. Each has its own story told in exhaust grime and battle-scars. And yet, they stand still at attention, holding vigil, bare to the world, as both signal and anchor in the presence of danger.

I have long clung to an eating disorder to hold my hurt body close, to feel a sense of agency in the face danger. I’ve felt compelled, driven, to swallow diet food as if it would anchor my body to my own bones. As I’ve recovered my voice, I have rage for the hurt in the world, not just the hurt I consumed and rejected in my years with anorexia. To the current president with the sweeping, horrifying grasp on us, I want to expose his small-handed fingers, or perhaps my middle fingers I’ve stifled and stumped in the years of my silence.

© Gwynneth VanLaven