Celestial Bodies part 1

A mixed media painting of the pillars of creation and a person melting into them.

The last month has been a bit strange, and tumultuous. Grief is really weird, and not linear, at all. For us, the constant impulses to bake mini cupcakes and make a Sim version of every single one of our friends so that we could put them up in nice apartments where they would all be safe FOREVER.. those impulses eventually wore off, and they left us in this really barren ruin of a place that we have always called the infinite place. Most people just call it despair.

The infinite place is cold, and lonely. Even though we Emmengardians are all there together, we are still so incredibly alone. We all stand apart looking into the gaping maw of eternity and wondering what is the point of everything. Why is there pain? Why is there heartbreak? Why are there those whose existences have been made so miserable, that death is a yearned for escape?

We spent many years in the infinite place, many years wishing we could somehow just stop existing. Going back to that place after finally having left it, is in some ways harder than all those years we lived there.  

When we finally were able to get away from the infinite place, it was like finding our old selves, it was like remembering who we really were. We very quickly forgot about how dark and how desolate the infinite place is.

After Kevin died, and after our impulses to bake and play Sims wore off, we were left with that long stretching feeling, where we just don’t want to do anything.  All the color has been drained from the world, all the flavor and richness is just gone. We drift in the eddies of time that have run off course in the vast flatness of the infinite place. We are just waiting for the winds to change. It is like waiting for a curse to lift, waiting to receive that spark that will guild us out of our despair.

That spark came in the form of a painting, as it so often does. Finna conceived of a painting of the universe and a person with their arms out stretched, melting into everything. We got our therapist to pose for it, so FInna could sketch the position of the arms from the angle she wanted.

Finna said “we have to do this painting.” The therapist said “Why?”  Finna replied “Because it is what is next.”

The therapist asked “What happens if you don’t?”  The answer is nothing. We don’t mean that in the sense that nothing bad will happen, we mean it in the sense that simply NOTHING will happen. If we do not follow that spark, there will not be another, not for a long time.  Nothing is basically the worst thing that could happen, just more nothingness stretched out before us.

We don’t fully understand the spark ourselves. It is somewhere in the realm of things spiritual and mystic. When we make art from that place, it is always something we only feel the vaguest sense of ownership over. In a lot of ways it doesn’t feel like it is coming from us at all, but being whispered through us.  I can’t tell you what this piece means. It will mean something a little different to everyone who sees it, even us.

All I know is two things: 1 for us, that painting was the first spark leading us out; and 2 when, in the course of painting it, we covered up the figure, we sobbed.  

We didn’t cry at Kevin’s funeral. Funerals are crowded and awkward places, and we are always on high alert around crowds. We couldn’t cry there, but alone in our studio, as the deep blue dripped and flowed, covering up the silhouette of a person, we burst into tears, suddenly and unexpectedly. We sat and cried for a long, long time.

The name we gave that piece is “Surrender,” but the true name of it is closer to the root for Shalom and Islam: SLM. It is an old root word that means something in between surrender and peace.

As we got closer to the end of the painting, we started to feel more ourselves, we started to feel as though the clouds where slowly clearing, and we could even imagine it being sunny again. We were not out of the woods, but we were at least moving. 

It was a few days after finishing “Surrender” that Kai found the next spark to follow.

We’ll tell you all about that, next time.

 

Take care of yourself(selves),

<3 Conrad

 

 

 

Suicide Scale

We recently lost a friend to suicide.

Our best friend, Megan, and us, actually made this scale together years ago. We have used it to help each other through the toughest times. 

When it was really bad, we could just look at each other and say “What number?” and we always knew what the other one meant. We also knew exactly what the number meant when we gave each other one.  If the number was too high, we made plans for that evening, so we wouldn’t be alone.

This scale got us all through a lot.  It got Megan through a massive depressive spell, and it got us through discovering we have Dissociative Identity Disorder.

But it was just something between us, between Emmengard and Megan.  We were too embarrassed and maybe even ashamed to really talk about it, because talking about it meant admitting that suicide is a thing we struggle with. The stigma of it all just felt too great. We weren’t out about our DID either. 

Now that we lost Kevin, that just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I wish we had made this earlier. I wish we had shared it with all of our friends, because then maybe Kevin would have known he was not alone. Maybe it could have all ended differently.

We are sharing this now, because we hoping that this could help other people. Maybe it could start a conversation. Maybe it could give friends, like Megan and us, a tool for really talking about this honestly.

Maybe it can help things turn out differently for someone else. 

We miss you Kevin.

-All of Emmengard

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EDIT:  Added a scroll version of the scale for people viewing on a mobile device.

EDIT EDIT: Further Versions of the Suicide Scale:

Spanish:

Horizontal Scroll Version:

Early Spring Storm

Hello, 

Colorado is a strange place. This week it was warm enough for us to wear shorts, and then suddenly snow. We had planned on going out that day, but decided we would rather not drive after all. So we spent the day in the studio.

 Sky ended up being the person out. She worked a bit on a large piece Bran started, following his plan to add  white branches and vibrant yellow circles. When she was done, she didn’t know what else to do. 

We don’t have much space in the studio, so she got out one of the smallest canvases we have, and tried to think of something to paint.

She felt kind of bad too. She wasn’t creative like Bjorn. She couldn’t think of any monsters, or fantastic creatures, like he could. She couldn’t think of a vibrant abstract landscape like Bran. She sat in the silence of our studio looking out at the blowing snow and not thinking of anything much at all, just how nice the snow was, and how even though the telephone wires were not very pretty, she liked how the snow had piled up on them. 

So that is what she painted, not in a flash of clear inspiration, not in a deluge of chaotic creative energy, but in a moment of quiet openness to the world as it is.   How we see things is just as important as the worlds we can imagine.  

I am glad Sky reminded us of that this week. I think her piece is very elegant. She did a wonderful job. 

I hope you/you all have a lovely week.  Keep arting, however it is that you art.

All our best, 

Ariadne (& Finna who desperately wants to play video games now we have finished our work ^-^)

Wellspring of Becoming

2/26/2019

Hello all,

A lot has been changing lately. We joined an artist guild.. they told us we need a website (emmengard.com).. we made a website.. And we signed up to speak at the plural conference. We will be talking about plurality and art.

It feels big.

Anyway, making the website was hard for us, and not simply because we have zero experience with webdesign. It was hard because I, Elowen, realized that I don’t want to actually sell any of my paintings. Our paintings are so much of who we are. We pour ourselves into them. I have really intense relationships with all the paintings I paint. I feel that if I don’t feel anything when I am making it, no one will feel anything when they look at it.

We throw ourselves into our work. I throw mysefl into my work.

Losing a single piece is gut wrenching, and I have been avoiding it our entire life. I hoard my lovelies.

However, as I was going through the process of making the website, I realized something else. Those paintings were how I knew I was me. When I was painting I was solidly myself. I was holding onto those paintings because when you are a member of a system it is so easy to feel lost in your own life, so easy to lose yourself in everyone else you are sharing a life with. I was ephemeral. But when I was painting I was real. I was solid. I was me.

Losing those paintings isn’t about just losing something I deeply love, it feels like I am losing myself.

However, that is all different now. We know each other. We love each other. I look at the creepy weird work that Weasel does, work that I could never do, that it never even occurs to me to do, and I love her so much. I look at Conrad and his confidence, his charm and humor and wit. I could never do that. I am not like him in that way at all. I love them. I am not just the one who paints anymore. I am not fiercely holding onto myself anymore. I am not ephemeral.

The love I have for my family, for my system mates, and the love they have for me, that is more solid and more real than all the paintings I have ever made, because it is from this deep love that all of our work comes from. Our love is a wellspring of becoming. So I can let them go now. Cause I and the others, we will always be making more.

So much love,

Elowen

We? Yes we.

Who are we? What is consciousness? What is personhood? What is the deep twining secret of human nature? What is human? What does it mean to be human?

I lost my name a long time ago, and when I found it, it was like looking down and realizing I had been holding it in my hand the entire time, like a thread. I looked down and saw that I was holding the thread that could unravel it all.

So careful, I had been so careful before, for years, holding that thread. This time I had had enough.

I looked down at that thread, that thread I had been holding all my life, and I grasped it with both hands and pulled with everything I have in me. Sometimes to find the new becoming you have to destroy old illusions. You have to find a way to stand in a world without ground, to breathe in a world without air, to exist as you are in the face of a world where you are an outsider, an alien, a freak.

But I would rather that than live a lie. I would rather dare for a life of reality, even if it is hard, than to live inside a pretty illusion.

We are not just one person. That is what is real.

I am Ariadne of Emmengard. I am one of the 22 people who live here and share this life, this exerience. I love us. I love who we are.