For the past decade of my life, endometriosis has been my constant companion––a particularly strange bedfellow, if you will. It is difficult to fully describe the impact the disease has had on my life, but I often think of how it feels: 
        It feels like the blade of a knife, plunged into tender flesh, past muscle and sinew. Past the tangles of nerves that make me, me these days. Past bone and organ and softness and warmth––it hits right to the heart of who I am. It sits under the skin and lives there. It will continue living there, alongside me, for the rest of my life. I question my body’s reliability; most often, I feel trapped in an endless trust fall, waiting to hit the floor. 
        By delving into my own personal narrative through the lens of my body, I unpack the feelings chronic illness has fostered within me––the fear, the loneliness, the rage. I perform wellness on a day-to-day basis, an act that has left an indelible stain on who I am. I find, oftentimes, the biggest perpetrator of violence against me is myself. 
        Through large-scale alternative process printing methods, I bring my body physically into the work. I personify inner conflict by acting as both the aggressor and the innocent, my present self warring against my past. My process is a labor of love and a product of endurance. I imbue each image with a sense of unease and alter reality with painted-on detail. These elements are the language through which I best communicate my feelings. Looming shadows, a body poised and ready to strike, blood dripping from a wound, an ugliness resting underneath the surface––common feelings that are rarely talked about, for fear of ruining the illusion. 

I am the clenched fist that holds the blade and I am the flesh it sinks into. 
I extend the gentle, giving hand and I bite back. I twist the knife and wonder aloud, “Why does this hurt so much?” 

At the end of the day, I am my own worst enemy.

Hand Me The Knife, I’m Going In!, 18” x 36”, 2023

You’re Just Gonna Have to Sit With It, 18” x 30”, 2023

Look Into Your Lover’s Eyes,
8” x 6”, 2023
Alligator Tears, 6” x 8”, 2023
The View from the Mirror, 8” x 12”, 2023

Bound For the Floor, 16” x 21”, 2023

This Time, With Feeling, 18” x 24”, 2023

Selection of installation images from Twist the Knife (2023).

© 2024 Claire Tomkiw