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My husband and I have been on a mission to fill our apartment with one of a kind art. We figured we’d start our collection with works by artists we know. After commissioning a pair of portraits from dear friend Lisa Baroutgian, we decided we wanted our next piece to be a conversation starter for the living room.
To fulfill this desire, I reached out to Hazel Handan, a brilliant artist and fellow activist that I met while partying in LA in my youth. Needless to say, Hazel did not disappoint –
Artist’s Statement: This piece was birthed through a blind drawing that was sketched along with 5-6 other ones. The sketch picked by Hayden and Tom would turn into the Medusa Dream. This piece has a complicated story. When Hayden asked me if I could commission a piece, of course I said yes. We hadn’t been extremely close but when we met up with friends during our younger years as adolescents, his energy was always soothing, honest, poignant, and he was passionate about writing. I started the painting at the tail end of my relationship to a bad man. My living situation changed, and through the transition, the painting remained a skeleton, waiting for skin and muscles. When the time came, I arrived at a place where I could nest and make work. The Medusa went from a nightmare, to a dream. While painting, I thought a lot about how oh how the hell to deal with all the injustices in the world. How to deal with the injustices in my own personal life? How to deal with empathic overload and fatigue? How to deal with recognizing I had become a manifestation of the Medusa, that is a survivor. I kept coming back to mindfulness. Surviving an abuser is tricky, painful, but teaches you in such an intense way. The lesson goes from copper to gold, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without intentional work. I think it was Audre Lorde who taught me to be mindful. Many people’s takes were interesting, and I respect that it works for them, but Audre really held my hand. Just learning how to turn a feeling into language, and soon, into action. That right there is the simplest and most powerful way I have learned to manifest. Did you know that looking up at the stars and talking about them, personifying them, and turning them into stories is the oldest form of spirituality? The world is heavy and I won’t try to or let anyone else try to convince anyone else that it’s not, but the stars have carried us since we could analyze and conceptualize language and narrative. We have changed and grown with the stars, trying to figure out its mysteries. Let the stars carry the weight for a bit, as they always have, and as long as we are alive, they always will.