I’ve spent the last few days slaving away on this paper I had to write, so as of yesterday evening, still hadn’t made anything for Diabetes Art Day. I figured I’d be up very, very late working some last minute creative magic because I was facilitating a journal-making workshop last night. Attendees to my workshop were told to bring an old hardbound book that we would transform into a journal that they could use for writing and art-making. In preparation, I had gone to the library last week to find some old hardbound books on their sale shelf, and I was really excited to find one called, “Diabetic Cooking from around the World”. I hate diabetic cookbooks. Other than the usefulness of having nutrition data, which I do like, I absolutely despise the notion that there’s such thing as a diabetic diet or special diabetic foods. I dealt with that when I was a kid, and I think it has a lot to do with why my relationship with food was such a disaster for so many years. These days I think diabetic cookbooks are a marketing scam because as soon as people are diagnosed, they feel like they have to run out and build a library of them. Worse, those cookbooks propagate the notion amongst those who don’t know any better that we need special food, and I hate that. This book clearly needed to be claimed and put to better use.
I planned to work alongside the workshop participants, assisting as needed, but simultaneously working on a journal as a way of showing them techniques. The workshop was designed to be therapeutic art-making, not art therapy, so I didn’t feel like I needed to be observing them as closely as I would a client making art in therapy. I was itching to do something with the diabetic cookbook, so I used that for my demonstration of altered book techniques.
Because adding artwork to books makes them super fat until they don’t close very well, I started by ripping out some pages to thin it a little in anticipation of filling it back up with glorious art. Then I opened it, and I was all over that half title page. I’m a big fan of the word, “diabetic”. I think it’s a great word. I refuse to say, “I’m a person who does art therapy.” No, I’m an art therapist. I won’t say, “I’m a person with breasts and a vagina.” No, I’m a woman. I know people have different takes on it, and the point of today isn’t to (re)hash that debate, but for me, diabetic is an empowering word, and I’m proud to be one. So I painted over the other words in the title. It was like the book decided what it was going to become on its own, my Diabetic book. My Diabetes Art Day project is the book with its half title page, modified to reflect one of the things that makes me most proud of myself: a Diabetic who has survived.
Altered books are fairly involved projects because they’re ultimately a big collection of mini art projects that are condensed into one package. As such, I barely made a dent by altering this page, so this will be an ongoing project that I hope to share with you as it progresses. I feel kind of badly that this is the only thing I’m using for Diabetes Art Day, but I’m really excited to have started this project, and I think it’s going to be a real keepsake when I’m done. If you’ve been listening to me blabber about Diabetes Art Day, you know I encourage people to use it as an opportunity to tell their story about diabetes. My half title page isn’t much to see now, but I think this silly old cookbook is going to tell a pretty interesting story when I’m all done with it.
LOVE to you all for participating. My level of joy at seeing your work is indescribable. HAPPY DIABETES ART DAY!