YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE
WRITTEN BY: MAUREEN REGULINSKI
A few years ago I started hoarding my used T1D medical disposables. The initial plan was to have a pile of junk to throw on a celebration bonfire when the cure for T1D was reported. I continue to wait for that good news.
While waiting for the party in the street, I go to my art studio and count out 10,000 blood-test tabs and 500 syringes for the “Wings*” of choice we fly on. I weave and macramé together 300 insulin pump infusion sets to create a new “Perspective*” on the beauty of 900 days living with diabetes allows me to experience. Using a pneumatic nail gun I send over 36,000 “Needles*” into silk and suede representing human flesh. I build narratives of life with diabetes. This is a full time job.
There is a pleasurable monotony in the art-making process. Sewing blood test tabs to a strip of ribbon is automatic, simple, calming, a moving mediation. Melting syringes in my oven becomes a game of transforming daily medication into the frivolity of wearing safety equipment and playing mad scientist. Being an artist provides me with the opportunity to laugh at myself, embrace life and forget about where those syringes came from for a while. Making art brings a peaceful calm to my world. In that calm I am, joyful and productive. My body responds to joy with level blood sugars and less need for insulin.
Making medical debris into art, turns hate into love; shots into feathers, needles into armor. Making art transforms my biggest challenge into something strong, and positive and life affirming. When I step away from the monotony of checking my blood sugar and adjusting my insulin I can see a lifetime of commitment. Everyday I take care of myself I say yes to life, yes to family, yes to friends, yes to art, yes to learning, yes to teaching, yes to … “I believe in a cure.”
Sometimes I feel obsessed with T1D. It has infiltrated every aspect of my life. Can I say I am beyond T1D? No, I am not beyond this disease. But, having a community makes me feel apart of something bigger than my personal experience with this disease. When I exhibit Regalia: Healing Avatars conversations happen and people share their personal experience with this disease. There is relief in knowing I am not alone. There is empathy in the room when a teen says, “I have diabetes and I’m not doing very well.” Talking about T1D is good.
Recently, I received a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts in collaboration with the Medical College of Virginia to hold workshops for teens with T1D. Turning Out Playful Solutions (TOPS) goal is to use creative process to bring passion to one’s self-care. Phase two is for these strong amazing teens to be health advocates in their schools. If anybody can make health trendy it would be a teen. Let’s all dance around the celebration bon fire and salute a life beyond Type 1 together!
*Regalia: Healing Avatars is the series of artwork Mo is currently working on. Each set of regalia represents a beneficial aspect of living with Type 1 diabetes. Gratitude changes everything.
Read The Boy on the Bus by Carter Clark.
WRITTEN BY MAUREEN REGULINSKI, POSTED 01/13/17, UPDATED 02/15/18
Mo is an American artist/designer, living in Richmond, Virginia. She creates wearable art from medical disposables. At the Virginia Museum of Fine Art she leads the Teen Stylin’ Wearable Art workshops. Through the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Medical College of Virginia, she works with Teens with T1D to become community health advocates. Mo’s focus is challenging American cultural ideology through narrative garments.
This article was found on the beyondtype1.org website, a website worth visiting for Type 1 diabetics.