Artful Practices for Well-Being

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Ulrike Müller. Some. 2017 447

Vitreous enamel on steel, 15 1/2 × 12" (39.4 × 30.5 cm). Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © Ulrike Müller.

Wednesdae Reim Ifrach: Hello magical humans. I’m M. Reim Ifrach, an art therapist and body liberation activist who owns Rainbow Recovery and serves on the board at Project HEAL. I am so excited to share this journey through Ulrike Muller’s Some.

I invite you to start by taking three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

As you begin to come into the space, notice how your body is interacting with the space around you.

What part of your body is feeling grounded, what part feels unsettled or disconnected? Just take a moment to feel being in your body.

Now imagine, in this journey, that your body is free from judgment. There are no rules about how it should look or what it should do. On this journey your body is perfectly imperfect just as it is.

As you sink into this journey look deeply into this piece and try to ground yourself through the imagery.

Do you see how the curvilinear lines ebb and flow in between the borders, boundaries, the straight lines?

Or do you notice the juxtaposition of colors at play here?

Do they remind you or anything or stir feelings? Whatever you’re feeling and experiencing is exactly as it should be,

I invite you to envision yourself walking through this with me, join me on this artistic journey as I share with you my own experience and connection this piece

My eyes are first drawn to this beautiful curved brown shape on the left.

It reminds me of how the back of the human body curves in and it feels beautifully nestled in this beige blanket that surrounds it.

Imagery like this always reminds me of my own body liberation journey.

I had spent years trying to shrink my body, morph it into a perfect portrait, hating the beautiful curve of my backside.

At one point I would have hated this artwork just because of that reminder.

What I learned on my own journey is that, that back side is made of steel and flowers.

Sturdy and strong, equally fragile and delicate and both beautiful in their own unique way.
Nothing about me needs to be a perfect portrait when I can instead be a thought-provoking abstraction.

Imagine what it would be like to feel free of that pressure.

Next my eye noticed the blue triangle at the top, the straight and angled lines compared to the curvilinear ones.

It almost invites us to see how gender plays out in our culture when it comes to our bodies.

We know blue was once a color for those assigned females at birth and that era ended as did the era of celebrating larger or curvier bodies.

This little slice of blue invokes in me this idea of being both soft and strong, masculine and feminine, of being all and nothing.

As a queer person it is little symbols like this that almost feel like an invitation to tap into those conflicting feelings and embrace them, honor them and allow them to exist.

I spent so much of my life looking for that blue triangle, wondering if it would ever be for me and here it is.

I encourage you to see how this little blue triangle sparks duality within you, sparks the idea of not being sold to one thing but to experience the breath of all the things that could be.

From the triangle I feel a shift into the black background that surrounds this beautiful white curve.
The stark contrast and harsh shift of colors reminds me of a time when my body and I were at war.
I hated the beautiful fluid movement of my body, the curves and the stark contrasts my body created in the world.

As I’ve moved through my own process of body liberation I have learned that the space I take up, the curves and the contrasts are mine and I get to own that without permission.

I want to honor that you too get to exist and take up this space without the need to make any excuses for your body and how it presents itself to the world.

You are enough just as you are and whatever your body is, is perfectly imperfect just as it is.

When I step back from this journey through this piece I see a beautiful celebration of the “somes” of the world.

The “somes” that have curves and the “somes” that have dark skin, the “somes” who are not quite one gender or the other, the “somes” that long to not be confined by the societal image of what a body should be, the “somes” who will forever play with the lines of gender.

When I step back from this journey and I look at this piece as a whole I see me.

I see the journey to learning to appreciate my body, the journey to understanding my gender, my queerness, my gifts to the world.

Muller’s work always reminds me there will always be artists embracing the genderqueer, embracing the bodies that have yet to be deemed model worthy, embracing the skin, embracing the through provoking point that gender and beauty are merely constructs.

And most of all, this work reminds me that I am more than mere constructs.

I am steel and flowers, enamel and wool, I am soft and hard, masculine and feminine, I am curved, I am broken and most of all I am whole.