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Injury and Care: Visual Diary by Bonnie Crawford

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I began making these diptychs in 2017 when I was a single mother of two, working full time and squeezing in an art practice wherever I could. Initially they were a non-verbal way to broadcast my isolation onto social media platforms during long stretches of time when I wouldn’t have another adult to talk to. Most of the images come from daily life in Baltimore with my children: things we would see in the neighborhood, moments of poetry in the objects around our house. Thematically the diptychs often combined images evoking tenderness with images of possible risk or harm. I think of them as meditations on how injury is unavoidable and what that means for how we care for one another. 

I have continued making these diptychs over the past few years, as our family has grown to include my partner, JB, and as the world has responded to a global pandemic. The way that we experience domestic space has dramatically changed since March of 2020. The diptychs presented here were all made since February 2020, capturing moments just before the shutdown, and the months that have followed.

Some of the text included with the images was written as image descriptions for Instagram users who rely on screen readers to experience the platform. These cases are noted as such.

In February of 2020, I am diagnosed with pneumonia from an unknown virus. JB is traveling for work, so I spend about a month alone in bed. My cats hang out near me and peek through the blinds of the window next to my bed. On the way home from my appointment for a chest x-ray, I see a set of stairs leading nowhere.

Early March. Hank does not have rules in his head for how one is supposed to sit in a chair. I think he looks like he is dancing. My cats are still interacting with the window blinds, spatially, formally.

On March 12 the governor announces closures throughout Maryland to prevent the spread of the pandemic. I find these two ugly images in my phone, and place them side by side. We had a sewage problem in our home, and the utility sink in the basement had been filling with raw sewage. A loading dock sign at the storage facility where my best friends left their belongings before moving to Europe the previous fall. Everything feels disjointed and scary. Shit is coming to the surface.

JB returns home early from his trip. I am so happy to have him home, I face lockdown less lonely than I was the previous month. The children are playing with a rubber toy monster, stretching it over their hands to create an abstract form. I give JB a string of pearls plant as an early birthday gift. He is very tender in the way he cares for it. It dies some months later.

We have been taking regular walks in the woods and spending time outside because there is little else to do. Hank is afraid of bees, and wind, and rain. He sits by the back door, considering joining us in the outdoors.
Image description: A boy facing his fears next to a moss-covered felled tree.

It is a saving grace that lockdown began in the spring. Flowers are blooming.
Image description: A recurring theme (Close up of a child with a bloody face next to an image of red tulips)

We have been ordering so much delivery food. I save this napkin because I think it’s pretty.
Image description: Little white blossoms and a beautiful paper napkin. 

We come across a dead fox lying across the middle of the trail in Herring Run Park. These little maple tree sprouts keep trying to grow in my vegetable garden.

I am so glad the boys at least have each other to play with.
Image description: Boys as squash blossoms in the grass.

The cat has a mysterious allergic reaction to something that causes his lip to swell. I sit in the car while the vet examines him. She calls me on my cellphone to discuss his treatment. A vet tech returns him to my car.
Image description: A cat with a swollen lip receiving care next to freshly rained on lettuce. 

Image description: Diptych. Image on the left is of a child’s shirtless torso stretching with rib cage visible under the skin, a wall with light passing through Venetian blinds.

Image description: Left: an old photograph of a woman at the beach, standing on the stairs from the boardwalk, waving, wearing a black one-piece swimsuit. The woman has been dead for 24 years now and her youngest daughter is 40 years old with two kids of her own.
Right: An interior at nighttime with a pendant light and light from another room cast in a diagonal across the ceiling and creased at the wall.

Late October. I miss seeing art in person. Ben video chats with me from Switzerland and we talk about Roni Horn’s friendship with Félix González-Torres. I think about how seeing Horn’s Gold Field inspired González-Torres at a time in his life that was filled with dread and grief. Later that same day, JB and I are sitting in bed, and gold trapezoids form on the walls around us. I’m feeling something like hope.

 

 

*****

A selection of Bonnie Crawford’s diptychs along with other works can be purchased through Current Space’s online shop. A selection of her Insomnia Drawings are currently on view in Evoking the Senses, an exhibition of works from Transformer’s Flat Files program. Her work is also included in Maryland Art Place’s UNDER $500, which is entirely virtual and runs Tuesday, December 15, 10 a.m. through Saturday, December 19 (closes 10 p.m. sharp).

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