While I was battling breast cancer through 2009-2010 and undergoing chemotherapy, the ticking bomb of my own body reminded me the geysers of Yellowstone National Park. Some were muddy, some colorful and unimaginably hot, all haunting and beautiful. Many of them visually resembled the cancer cells I had observed during the endless hours of ultrasounds procedures, MRI scans, and biopsies. I thought of them as ‘hot springs’ or ‘hot flashes’ assaulting my body. I sensed them as the wholeness that resulted from a fusion with the sublime of nature.
Considering what the great American naturalist, John Muir said: “By going out into the natural world, I am really going in”, I began to map my own journey thorough the various images taken from my car, GPS, MRI, ultrasound, camera, and my own imagination.
This super-volcano territory felt like home to me, open to all and endlessly ephemeral. I became fascinated with the Mammoth Hot Springs geyser mountain. Here, many terraces and mineral-rich waters full of microorganisms change color and shape constantly while going through cycles of activity and dormancy. These ever-changing structures called Minerva Terraces became my subject to explore through painting, different every time I entered the physical and psychological space. The experience of translating the meaning of place into the images of Minerva Terraces constructed connections and encouraged wonder.
I was painting these images without the ability to move my arm freely after the mastectomy. Painting within a haze of high-dose medications, the process was difficult; it was a struggle but certainly a path to self-awareness. This journey through the window of my own corporeal battles included hot flashes and sudden baldness…an emotionally charged experience.