artNotes from Hyde House: My Body is my Best Friend

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Responding to a recent email “Call for Art and Artists”, the painting I am submitting, “My Body is my Best Friend”, is quite small, 10”x8”, rendered on stretched canvas with acrylic and textile collage.

Sponsored by the Ozark Center and the Joplin Public Library, “Reflections of Hunger: Disordered Eating and Body Image through Their Eyes”, will showcase the stories and talents, the wisdom and lived experiences of individuals in our community struggling with their body image and/or eating disorders.

The prospectus for the upcoming exhibition reads, “Everyone knows someone with an eating disorder, whether or not we realize this. As common as eating disorders are, they can be difficult to understand. No textbook or lecture can truly show us what life is like, so we must hear those who are living this every day.”

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“Reflections of Hunger” will open on June 29, 2023, and remain on view through the month of July. The Call for submissions and associated forms can be located at ozarkcenter.com/ROHentry. All entries must be submitted to Suite 1D at Ozark Center Hope Spring, 3901 East 32nd Street, Joplin, by May 26, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. For more information contact Dr. Jenny Copeland at (417)347-7500.

I am grateful for this opportunity to add my voice to the others who will be sharing their experiences. I offer you here my words that will be displayed alongside my artwork:

“Approaching eight decades of living, I have spent a lifetime learning to love my body. When we are taught that our bodies are nothing more than objects to be used for the pleasure of others, we have much to unlearn.

She was told she was wrong. She should not tell. She did not tell. I got good at forgetting. All those memories got stored—in muscles, in bones, in tissues, in brain cells at the back of my head—until they made my body very unwell.

My secrets came back as nightmares. A rat was stuck in my throat. I had to pull him out. With him came the pain, the humiliation, the guilt, the shame and the overwhelming need to numb—to live from the head up. To eat or not to eat: that was the question. To hate my body or to heal her: that was another concern.

Finally I began to talk—to tell trusted others. They said I should put words on paper. Published, I was heard and all the while I painted, painted, painted—painted out the pain. Love found me. I have found therapists, massage, running, walking, swimming, yoga, whole food plant-based eating, prayer and meditation. They help.

Some days now I remember to tell my body that I love her. That she is strong and brave. Some days I remember to tell her she is beautiful. Even as she ages, she is beautiful still.

My body is my best friend. She listens.”

What else do we listen to besides our bodies? Certainly music speaks to many of us. Visit RHYTHMS & THREADS at 1110 East Fourteenth Street in Carthage, and see how music speaks to and inspires artists Clint and Mary Thornton. Weekend Gallery Hours continue through May 13, 2023. You can view the exhibit online at and at  www.artcentralcarthage.org and www.facebook.com/ArtcentralCarthage/.

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