This morning I watched a documentary by the name of “Marwencol”. Fifteen minutes in, I started to take notes because I knew I had to write an article about this man. Mark Hogancamp.
A few years ago, 5 men jumped Mark outside of a bar and beat every memory out of his head. He slipped into a coma for 9 days and after an extended stay, was asked to leave the hospital because his Medicaid refused to pay for anymore treatment or care. Same went for his physical therapy.
Mark (who bears a striking resemblance to Dustin Hoffman) had to learn to walk, talk, eat, read….like he’d become an infant all over again at the age of 38. But the human spirit is a resilient being. The first thing Mark fought to save was his imagination. Even Einstein knew that imagination was far more important than knowledge.
So Mark went about constructing a minature 1/6th scale WorldWar II-era town in his backyard and began filling it with dolls who represented those who meant the most to him….and those who didn’t. He dubbed his fantasy world “Marwencol” and the drama ensued from there. And when I say drama….this place is like a vintage Peyton Place. But within this world, Mark began to heal. He unleashed his anger in the form of military torture. He found love and redemption…and revenge. All without hurting another human mentally or physically.
But he didn’t just build a town with some dolls and trees. He began posing and creating scenes that told intricately woven stories, then pain-stakingly photographed each scene. He wasn’t using a high-priced camera with a fancy lense and tripod. He mailed away his film to be developed and if the pictures didn’t turn out right…if they were blurry or the exposure was off….he’d simply go back and shoot everything all over again. He didn’t keep any negatives…he just put all the photographs in a cardboard box.
Mark in no way thought of himself as an artist. He had simply found a way of coping. Jeff Malmberg, director of “Marwencol”, found Mark after watching him pull a toy jeep filled with dolls holding firearms up and down a road. After seeing Mark’s work, he knew he had to share it with the world. A New York gallery owner caught wind of Mark’s work and went about setting up a show featuring Marwencol.
All professional success aside…it was the moxy of his spirit and soul that had me at hello. The stronger part of him that talked the dark side into playing with some dolls. His determination to be himself and realize he wasn’t accountable for the reactions and feelings of other people’s opinion of him.
As a child, I spent the majority of my time in a fantasy world that I’d created to escape a traumatic childhood and I stayed there until my late teens. I shut everything down, turned off the lights and walked out….because grown-ups don’t live in imaginary worlds. They ridicule and chastize those who do. So for the better part of the past three years, I’ve been struggling to un-earth that vivid imagination and begin writing from that place of unpolluted innocence. I’m slowly getting there. Slowly. Maybe if I could go play dolls with Mark, I’d tap into what I buried so long ago.
Perhaps playing is the key. Remember when you were a kid and just hearing someone say, “You wanna play?” was magical? I think that as adults, we secretly long to cross over into a magical realm where unicorns are real and sticks have magical powers. Where villians need conquered and princesses need saving.
Mark was able to recapture his birthright. His imagination. He didn’t need a high priced shrink or piles of medication. It would behoove us all to follow in his footsteps. It shouldn’t take a broken mind to find this magical place. It takes an open mind. Completely open.
So without even knowing or realizing it, Mark and his beloved Marwencol has encouraged me to keep digging my way back to the beginning. For I believe it is THERE where I will find my true path forward.
“I shut my eyes in order to see.” ~ Paul Gauguin
Filed under: Life | Tagged: art, art galleries, artists, bloggers, blogs, culture, dolls, imagination, jeff malmberg, life, lifestyle, mark hogancamp, marwencol, mental health, movies, new york city, news, people, personal, play, toys | Leave a Comment »
(Written by April Trice)
A web of lies at birth was given.
A birth name changed, no reason given.
One mother gave.
One mother got.
And in between, there was a spot.
A spot, a stain.
You pick, your choice.
But deep inside there was a voice.
A voice unsure, terrified.
A voice spinning stories
Perceived as lies.
The voice got louder.
More grating, more knowing.
And underneath the stain,
A soul now glowing.
A fragile soul, peering outside.
A world so frightening.
A world so wide.
So with her voice,
The stain made sound.
An injured soul, still underground
Never quite good enough, seemingly failing.
The stain, now defeated
Began her fading.
The glow grew fainter.
The voice, but a whimper.
Once seen, now is gone.
What was, now is vapor.
So much potential, yet so much shame.
Prevented the stain from having her day.
Under the sun, washed clean of the sin.
Left alone for awhile
This stain, she did dry.
A stain no more, the tears have been cried.
A gentle glow begins inside.
Inside the skin that’s barely there
A new voice grows.
Can you hear her there?
She’s speaking now.
In quiet, she hides.
Slowly beginning to walk outside.
A sun so bright.
A world so enchanting.
This voice with this glow sees a life in the making.
So hush now, child….rest your head.
The old stain is gone.
A new me instead.
And with this voice, I’ve a story to tell.
A web I will weave.
A web I know well.
(Written by April Trice)
One child is born.
A perfect son.
The mother, fractured.
What’s done is now done.
Another child born.
Again, one more son.
The mother, more fractured
Her descent just begun.
The mother, she pauses.
Two children, so pure
A family dissolves.
How could she?
Who does this?
A mother, unresponsive.
The label: Unfit
She runs, the mother.
No guilt, only sickness.
A prior life lost.
The plot only thickens.
Away, far away.
The postman comes calling.
For you, Bad Mother
These papers need signing.
A feeble hand signs
Confined to her bed.
A soul signed away.
Take your meds.
So my offspring is on Spring Break this week. Lookit. I’m jumping up and down with joy. It’s actually not terribly bad this year because her Daddy also took some time off to run interferance. Thanks to Murphy and his shoddy list of laws, it went from sunny and 80 degrees to cold and rainy just about the time Spring Break started.
So. Inside activities. Yesterday was jigsaw puzzle day. She did manage to walk her fanny down to the lake and fetch some nasty snail shells for me to clean. Sometimes I wonder if she wouldn’t be happier out there in the doghouse, free to wander with abandon. I’d take her to the Mall, but that’s like slow suicide, so I’ll have to come up with something else.
If you want some free printables, here’s a list of my faves. You’d be surprised how long a kid can stay busy with a glue stick, scotch tape and a stack of printable fun times and crafts. Some of these sites are for the Mamas…scrapbook and journal ephemera and whatnot. Get busy!
(Click on images)
DLTK Printable Crafts
Karen’s Whimsy (Vintage paper dolls, ephemera, etc.)
Go Make Something (Collage art)
Graphic’s Fairy (Free vintage clip art)
Jingerup (Prints and patterns too cute for words)
Art-e-Zine (Vintage resources)
Filed under: Arts & Crafts, Freebies & Samples, Kid's Activities, Parenting, Printables | Tagged: activities, activity village, art, artists, arts and crafts, blogspot, collage art, crafts, crayola, dltk kids, ephemera, familyfun.go.com, free clip art, free printables, go make something, graphic' fairy, jingerup, journal, karen's whimsy, kid printables, kid's activities, living locurto, paperglitter, tips, whimsy | Leave a Comment »
I’m loving me some altered books. LOVING THEM! I wish I could find a workshop or something to learn a bit more about them….but alas. The town I live in sucks rotten eggs and wouldn’t know alternative art education if it bit ‘em in the hiney like a rattle snake. So…self-taught it is.
Instead of random alterations, I’ve decided to use a theme: The Book of Me. A horror novel, to be sure. Actually I plan on taking Journal excerpts and creating pages from those entries. Should be interesting considering my Journals date back 30 years.
There will no doubt be a great many ”I hate my parents! I want to run away!” and “I love (enter random boy’s name). Does he know I’m alive?”
This is where I’ve started. I’m using an ancient law-book from the Oxford Institute. I found a whole set of them a few years back for like 75 cents.
And here are some seriously accomplished books. What I love is that it’s quickly becoming a highly respected art-form. The International Society of Altered Book Artists (ISABA)is proof-positive of that.
Filed under: art, Arts & Crafts, Life, Poetry, Vintage Retro | Tagged: altered books, art, artists, arts and crafts, assemblage, collage, international society of altered book artists, isaba, journaling, journals, mixed media | 2 Comments »
It’s no surprise. I like it. The Weird. It makes me feel like…oh, I dunno…like I’ve come HOME. So naturally, I adore the kooky art of David Shrigley. Those who “get” this type of thing..why, you can be my friend! Here’s a Shrigley quickie. You can see the rest of his brilliance here:
Every once in awhile you stumble upon a piece of art that speaks to you in a hushed voice, asking you to tune out the white-noise of life and to just LISTEN. Pino’s “Maternal Instincts” has done that for me. And appropriately so. I’m always amazed at life’s magical way of syncing with my Soul Song.
This morning was one of those rare and priceless Mommy-Daughter moments that will remain embedded in my heart and mind for all time. We somehow got on the subject of dreams coming true and Cali asked, “What do YOU think about sometimes when you dream?”
I told her I thought about ways to be a better Mommy…a better wife. A more soulful artist…a more revealing writer. Then she hit me with:
“How do you know you’re an artist?”
Aha! Big Life Teaching Moment! So I immediately stopped what I was doing and sat on the floor with her. The conversation went a little something like this:
ME: I know I’m an artist because it’s what I HAVE to do. If I don’t, then there’s a big yucky gunky pile of junk around my heart and I get sick. I know because it’s the one thing I do that makes me feel complete (besides being your Mommy). I don’t have to work at it. I create because it’s my authentic self. What do YOU do that makes you happy inside? That gives you a warm oozy feeling in your belly?
CALI: My music…and dancing. That’s what I do when I’m happy.
ME: Then you’re a singer and a dancer. Right now, it’s what you have to do, right?
CALI: Yeah, but I don’t wanna go to dance class anymore and be scared on the big stage.
(She’s referring to her Spring recital.)
ME: You don’t have to be on a stage in front of people to be a singer and dancer, Cal-Belle.
ME: No. You just do it. Who cares if anyone sees or hears it. But don’t you dare stop if someone stops to watch or listen, okay? Don’t ever be embarrassed to do what you love.
CALI: What’s that smell. Did you toot? Nahhh…I think it was Tess. Tess tooted!
Life lesson complete. But the more I think about that conversation, the more I think the lesson was just as much for me as it was for her. Maybe even more.
“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” ~William D. Tammeus