Posted by: emjb | August 30, 2006

An Interview with the Artist from Cesarean-Art.com

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I came across the artist several months ago and knew immediately that I wanted her work to find a wider audience. I didn’t get nibbles from some magazines I talked to, so screw ’em; blogs are good for some things.

As a cesarean victim test subject survivor, it was a jolt to find someone expressing visually my own feelings of violation, of rage, of a wound that would never completely heal. She uses blood a lot in her images, but I will tell you that’s entirely appropriate. Feeling like a wounded bleeding dying animal, like a piece of meat, was part and parcel of my experience, too. It’s what happens when hospitals take away a person’s dignity and agency in the name of covering their ass. Birth is always a profound event, and the shock of being downgraded from woman-becoming-mother to a piece of ground chuck on a slab that the doctor can’t be bothered to talk to is something you never really get over. If you want to know what it feels like to have a c-section you know or suspect wasn’t necessary, you couldn’t start at a more honest place.

When did you start creating these images? There are 28 of them; when did you finish the last one?
I did the first two a few weeks after the surgery in October 2005. And thought I was done with it. Those were the image of the woman on the OR table and me holding my baby. But later I had the idea to make lots more and create a website. I also have a few unfinished ones, the last one started late May this year.

What is your reason for staying anonymous?
Basically, I want to speak out as a woman that could be any woman, not as my personal self, if that makes sense. And I don’t know why I should put my name on the site, anyways.

Was your first cesarean easier for you to deal with, or just as difficult?
I was back in my home country, tons of friends, family…yeah I felt sad back then, but was able to move on after a while.

You clearly have an illustration background. Have you considered publishing this art in a different format…as part of campaign against unnecessary cesareans, etc.? Has anyone approached you about other uses for your images?
I offer anybody who wants them hi-res files of the images to print and use for their own purposes (educational or personal) and have sent many batches to midwives, doulas and doctors who want to use them in classes and seminars just to show the emotional risks of c-sections. Publishing is not planned at the moment.

Do you think you suffered postpartum depression as a result of your c-section, or do you consider what you felt “simply” grief or anger, etc? Were you prescribed antidepressants, and did they help at all?
I was angered that my OB assumed that I suffer from PPD or have had “a hard childhood” or that I must have suffered something bad before etc. She did not want to believe that yes, it was really the c-section that made me so upset. I believe it to be what is called a post traumatic stress disorder. I have no symptoms of PPD in terms of problems with bonding, feeling suicidal and so on. I never took any medication. I don’t think there is something that would help against cesarean rage, but I’m sure people will come up with it.

What has affected you the most about the responses you’ve received (positive, negative, or both)?
Negative ones: the arrogance to “diagnose” somebody over the internet.
Positive ones: knowing that I’m not alone. That sounds simple but after nobody around me understood my feelings, I really believed I must be the only one!

Your work reminds me of Mucha; who are your influences?
Yeah, I like Mucha. Love him. Other than that I like anybody who works well on Adobe Illustrator.

What has helped the most, aside from creating your art, in dealing with your c-section?
Time. I have desperately searched for a quick solution but time is the only thing that really helps.

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