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Portraits of Drowning Women

The stories in this series depict personal experience and the experiences of friends, dealing with trauma, grief and regrowth through personal struggles and a global pandemic.

'Everything that drowned me, taught me how to swim'-author unknown

The Backstory

They started as sketches, sandwiched between the death of my brother and the start of a global pandemic. They began as every bad storm and were followed by a rainbow...birds chirping and thunder crashing. Happiness and Sadness. Exhaustion and Clarity.

I've been drowned a 100 times before. I've had my head pushed beneath the water so many times, that I had formed a sort of peaceful alliance with her. I gave in to water, and she allowed me back up for air.

Water has the power to destroy...wipe out entire cities if she so feels it. Water has the power to nourish...maintaining life.

Water has been a subject of my work for an entire generation...but never like this.

The Highlight Reel

January 29th 2020. My heart stopped for 5 seconds and I couldn't breath. A brain surgeon exits hospital doors and I read his face. My sister grabs my hand and squeezes. I'm drowning in loss. I'm drowning in pain. Wake up, Candace...this can't be real. Someone, save me.

Im seeking distractions, not looking or thinking too far into the future. I don't trust the future...I already declared at the start of 2020 that this year would be a fantastic year..and she turned around and slapped me in my face. "It has to get better, I kept can't get any worse'.

Just a very short time later we all begin following news stories about a pandemic happening across the world.

It feels like treading water, when the cases start showing up in the US... quarantines are placed, and society turns to social media.

In the name of mental health and constitutional freedoms, everyone ends up at home improvement stores, posting selfies with their newly purchased plants...A sort of mental health boycott... I feel a tap on my head.

Week two: A friend phones me, nervous and confused. Theres a slip in slide and beer pong party down the street, and the country death toll is on the rise. The first push.

An angry acquaintance sharpens her tongue, and takes to social media. She's ready to attack...her trauma is leading's not a showcase of love...but anger and fear. I see these beacons of anger lighting up all around me...attracting more anger...more fear.

I'm scrambling for a life preserver.

I head to the grocery, face covered, avoiding isles with more than one person...head home, strip at the bathroom door and shower. I think of my family. I think of uncertainties. I think of those feelings I experienced on January 29th. I climb into the shower...a relapse of fear, visions of my brother unconscious, laying in his hospital bed. I never said goodbye. A outpour of tears and a quiet sort of prayer in the shower 'please, no more loss this year'... I'm drowning again.

The cycle continues. Cry. Drown. Surrender. Come up for air. Cry. Drown. Surrender. Come up for air.

..I look around, and we are all scrambling for life preservers.

The Project

This series will explore how society is coping with personal struggles during a global pandemic. It will highlight illustrated personal experiences of my own life and the lives of my peers. What drowns them? What throws them a life preserver? What does this experience say about human connections, self preservation, compassion of an entire population of people?

While identities will remain anonymous, the images that emerge will depict people from my own life and the stories they have shared with me.

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