Art of Trauma

"The process of art therapy is based on the recognition that man’s most fundamental thoughts and feelings, derived from the unconscious,  reach expression in images rather than words." (Naumberg 1958: 511).

I know quite a few artists.

I know painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians,  and more. Nearly all of them are traumatized by adoption either as a mother who lost a child or a child who lost a mother. I am always deeply touched by their work. I am envious. I have no such talent.

Julie Rist, Joanna Fisher, My friend Jean, Bonnie Landau, Ann Fessler, Lina Eve, Jan Kashin, Celeste Billhartz all come to mind immediately when I think of adoption art.

I want, correction, I crave an Adoption Trauma Art Museum.  I want one place where all these amazing artists can display their work. Shoot, if I had a home and a garage, I would start one there.

As a communications professional I teach (okay, preach) daily that indivduals absorb information in different manners. Many will be touched by words (as this blog has touched some), others will be touched by music, and still others by imagery. I believe we need to use all mediums when we speak adoption reform. What appeals to a Radio Baby will not appeal to a Gen Y. We need to use all communication channels available to us.

The latest artist to cross my path is Cynthia Albrecht (BSE mom, 1979, in reunion for several years).  She has given me permission to post these  photos of some of her work. I am not inserting in line for I believe to really feel it you need to look at them individually first.

View "Before Adoption" by Cynthia Albrecht.  Take it in. Look it over. What does it say to you?

Then come back and view "After Adoption" by Cynthia Albrecht.

Finally, view this one titled "Birthmother" by Cynthia Albrecht.

11 Thoughts.

  1. Wow, the impact of adoption never goes away, and she is ultimately “caged” by the birthmother label. How sad, and accurate.
    The “caging” effect really has me thinking….

  2. isn’t it amazing how a personal experience can allow you to just “get it”? What I wouldn’t give to not “get this” at all!!!!

  3. Wow, very expressive indeed! Definitely provokes a strong emotional response in me.
    Personally though I’d rather see a museum of adoption healing and recovery. We’ve all been through the trauma, but how about the aftermath of love and compassion and growth from experience? Not to discount the experience or emotions that go with it, but we are all stronger people having gone through it.
    Recently somebody told me that I should express more of my anger in my art. My art is too peaceful and joyful, he said. My art is my escape. And while I do some pieces that are full of these emotions, I mostly create peaceful, spiritual work because this is what soothes and heals my spirit. Often if I begin a painting with anger, it will evolve into a healing image. My process in art is about moving through and healing by connecting with the creative energy.
    So I’d rather focus on the healing rather than the pain… just my opinion.

  4. Bonnie – I think we would have two different audiences. You would likely want to target those traumatized and give hope to heal. I would want to target those that haven’t been torched by adoption and give a kicker to stop the insane practice of separating mothering and child. Some people need to see the results of horrible acts to be compelled to stop them.
    Both museums have value, I believe.
    However, if my museum was sucessful, yours would not be for there would be no need to heal from trauma that had ceased to occur.
    Also, if there is all this wonderful proof that you can get better and it can be alright, why not keep on doing what has been done?
    : )

  5. I hadn’t thought of it as a way to show people outside the triad the effects of the experience. You’re right, nobody really knows unless they’ve gone through it. And I do believe society as a whole thinks babies are not traumatized by adoption because we don’t remember that part of our lives. And society as a whole thinks young girls/unwed mothers are better off giving up their babies because they are considered “too young” to raise them.
    Point well taken. Thanks for clarifying. I still would just want to come to my museum if that’s okay… just had enough of the pain myself. 🙂

  6. Wow, these freaked me right out. So they’re doing their job. Spot on, Cynthia. Thanks for posting them, Suz.

  7. Thanks for the support for my pictures ladies, I thought I would share the backgroud for the photos of my barbies.
    My therapist told me a stuffed animal or something to represent me might be a helpful healing tool. So I went to the store looking and of course who could represent a 15 year old teen better than Barbie! They made a real pregnant version that has a removeable tummy and baby inside! Of course she was BANNED and you can only find her on E-Bay! Ha! Figures!
    I stayed bound, gaged,hiding behind the flimsy happy face for years (22 years). Working with the dolls really helped me come to terms with the reality of my abuse and pain, really take a hard look and face it. No more denial.
    There is a happy ending . .. guess who had to grow up, find me, and help me out? Is is fair to have her help me? The same baby they took, came back a grown woman now and she remembered me and helped me, it took 22 years but I’m starting to resemble the original girl a bit more now. I’m still scarred, but my heart is healing, I’m finding a voice, and some dignity, thanks to the amazing courage of my beautiful, strong firstborn baby girl! She is my HERO!!!!!

  8. The Barbie shows exactly what happens on the outside of a mom. But on the inside its even worse! A very good visual and most moms will relate although as individuals WE are all in
    different places in non reunions, reunions or even just beginning the hellish journey with a open adoption.
    Thats one of the things that keeps adoption going besides the need to have a baby, anyone’s baby, just as long as ONE gets a baby. Mother and baby DON’T matter!
    Mothers have been stomped on, abused, and then are expected to be “grateful” just like adoptee’s.
    I am NOT grateful to anyone in regard to adoption. Adoption kills. IT kills the hearts of moms. I know how dramatic that might sound to some but even after 16 plus years of reunion my life, my heart, my will has been beaten to submission.
    Just like Barbie in the cage. I would rather have died then to live this hell on earth that I lived without my child, and am still living in reunion.
    ADOPTION keeps on giving forever and ever. I want out of this hellish nightmare but I don’t have a choice. Not then when I lost my baby OR now “it” just keeps on and on.

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