ON CHRONIC ILLNESS

Printmaking / mixed media by Jenni M. White
Artist Statement

Reflections on Chronic Illness

I’ve lived for  over 16 years now with an illness commonly called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis).  The fatigue and brain fog that this illness has brought into my life has robbed me of so many things.  For many years it felt like life was just survival; just doing basic things was all my body could handle.  Coupled with these losses, I’ve often had poor interactions with disbelieving medical providers.  These pieces are works born out of pain and confusion but also out of consistently trying to choose hope in the midst of a debilitating condition.  I hope that viewers get a picture of what it is like to live with hidden chronic illness.

The Two Jenni’s

8″ x 10″ paper lithography print, oil on paper, mixed media. ©2019 Jenni M. White.

Chronic illness (at it’s best) can leave you feeling like 2 people, the one that everyone sees at your best and the one that crashes at home.  It’s some kind of cycle, but you often never know what your going to get.  This gives rise to so many feelings and thoughts which I’m exploring in this piece.

I want to acknowledge Frida Kahlo’s influence on this piece.

Erased

10″ x 8″ paper lithography print, oil on paper, mixed media.
©2019 Jenni M. White.

Sometimes living with a chronic illness feels like being imprisoned in my own body.  So much of my life feels hemmed in by the rigors of trying to manage it.  And because I’m one of the fortunate ones who have had success with managing it, I get to help speak for those who cannot.  I made this piece for the solve ME/CFS newsletter.

Imprisoned

8″ x 10″ paper lithography print, oil on paper, mixed media.
©2019 Jenni M. White.

Another piece from a series on chronic illness.  This one expresses the feeling I experience that I’m loosing myself.  So much of life is linked to our energy: what we do, how we think, how we respond to others, pursuing our passions…

My purpose isn’t to relay a hopeless feeling, but to give people a glimpse of the experience of those with chronic illness. .

Head to Heart

8″ x 10″ paper lithography print, oil on paper, mixed media.
©2010 Jenni M. White.

So often I’ve left the Dr. feeling like “it’s all in my mind”. This piece explores that feeling along with the confusion of navigating the medical world (eastern, western, all the specializations…). And the scary feeling that you have to be the point person to figure it all out or stay sick.

Momentary Affliction

8″ x 10″ Paper lithography, mixed media.
©2016 Jenni M. White

Self Portrait: Light

18″ x 24″ Oil on Panel
©2009 Jenni M. White

Self Portrait: Jar

18″ x 24″ Oil on Panel
©2009 Jenni M. White

Self Portrait: Rocks

18″ x 24″ Oil on Panel
©2009 Jenni M. White