THE CHAINS OF ADDICTION; BREAKING OVER THE DRAGONS BACK
ADDICTION, THE BATTLE:
As some of you know, or as many of you know I am a recovering alcoholic. Alcohol has been but one of many of my vices over the years, but it by far was the one that had the greatest impact on my life. Alcohol induces me to make poor decisions on purpose seemingly. And through all of my many years of drinking I learned a lot of lessons, I created my fair share of enemies, and lost numerous friends along the way.
In many ways, we as humans all have addictions in one form or another and to different degrees. The important thing is that our habits do not cause harm or impair our lives or the lives of others in harmful ways. I am the type of personality that likes to experience all things good and bad, and I like to experience them frequently and with maximum feeling. This trait is why I am susceptible to addiction and also what drives me as an artist.
In many ways art is an addiction: the obsession that goes along with the passion of creating is very often hard to let go of in our thinking, just like all addictions. Beyond just making aesthetically pleasing objects and ideas, art is many things one of which may just be a form dependence. Many artists are users or go through phases of using and abusing substances of one sort or another.
Art can be the expression of addiction, an obsession at the least. Art is angst manifested, the acting out of a mental disorder, social anxiety, art is escapism. Doing art has a lot in common with doing drugs. Both offer alternate realities, both can change your state of mind, and both can be readily available.
Art can be a magnificent tool for healing as well. We can use art in all aspects of our lives. We can make art to pass the time when we are happy, We make art to give a sense of control when we feel powerless, and we use art to give us purpose when we see none. Art can bring us together and make way for communication. Art can express the truth through the lies that it tells. Art can change the world. Art can help people get back to their selves and contribute to discovering themselves just a little bit more.
To what things or substances are you addicted? We must always address our personal problems before casting blame on others. Are there things in your life that you just can’t live without? More importantly, are you thinking in circles about things that perhaps you should not be?
In our city, Pueblo, we have a problem with drugs and less an issue with artists,(although many of us artists can be a handful). It seems as long as I can remember Pueblo was a drug city, a drunk city, and place where the rules seem to apply a little less.
Why has my town produced so many addicts? Why has this epidemic reached such epidemic proportions in our town? Why has it been allowed and encouraged?
The Heroin epidemic in Pueblo has reached such a scale that now Pueblo had made numerous lists for several different reasons as being one of the worst cities in the United States. Now while I can’t claim that heroin is responsible for all or even the majority of crime in the city, I do know that it does contribute to many problems which our city experiences.
It was a long time coming, this opiate problem. I remember when the pharmaceutical pills started being so common in the early 2000’s. Those became harder to find and gave rise to the use of heroin. Now 17 years later we have to organize groups to clean up all the needles around town. We are in need of needle exchanges; we are need of much more rehab. While I don’t have lots of knowledge about heroin addiction, I’ve tried opiates; luckily they were not my thing.
“Breaking The Chains of Addiction” was painted at the new needle exchange (currently called the resource center) in the Bessemer area of Pueblo. A part of town where the needle exchange gets no shortage of clientele.
My intention in painting a mural on addiction is to address an issue which has been significantly detrimental to our community. I would like to see if I can, in fact, help people through the use of art.
This mural is just the beginning of the project. The mural is designed to be the starting point to inspire others to make art. Then in the future, I will take members of the community, drug users, visitors to the exchange, and teach them to use the power of mural painting to tell their own stories. I hope to create a powerful mural which expresses the truths that may otherwise remain hidden in our community. Through giving those that struggle a voice, perhaps we can learn new ways to approach solutions to this problem which affect us all.
I designed this initial part of the mural to represent the struggles and triumphs of addiction as well as the joy of being a part of the community and of a group art project. I want to address the problems and work through them in the painting until we can discover solutions. A significant problem with addiction is denial, and through art, we can often address our issues in a more comfortable and accessible way.
My plan is to paint more socially conscious works of art. I feel like the work I do in the future must be more honest. And what more honest topic than addressing the deepest concerns and problems within our community. Art has a way of disguising the truth and also a way of revealing it. It is my intention to make this city a better place by addressing the problems and bringing public awareness to them through painting and beautification projects with meaning, intentions, and causes.
I would like to tackle more topics like this in my future work. Pueblo has problems with gangs, incarceration, misogyny, violence, teenage pregnancy, poor education, and many other social issues that I would like to address and bring awareness and educate.
For nearly twenty years I have been closely related to street culture as a street artist and muralist. I know that my voice is widely heard and I’d like to use it to help educate and hopefully reform our community into one that addresses our problems with thought and feeling and uses art to make our city a more beautiful, safe, and attractive place to be.
I’ve never been able to work full time on the murals in Pueblo. Especially work of such importance as this. I believe that the time is now for as many of us as possible to take action. I would like to dedicate my mural work to the social upliftment of our community. I believe that through painting socially conscious murals I can bring awareness both locally and nationally to our city, in a positive and uplifting way. I want to raise money to paint incredibly honest murals which tell the real story of our town. The darkness to the light. I believe that it is of the greatest importance that we do this work now and being to visually take control of our city and take control of the problem before it takes hold of the next generation like it has this one.
I don’t have all of the answers, but I do believe that I can help. I believe that through creating a project with this intention on this scale, it will most certainly be impactful upon our community.
I can’t promise that what I do will have a noticeable impact on combatting the negatives, but I do know that through researching these projects and these topics I can learn much about the culture of our town and share my discoveries with you all. And most importantly I can make good on a promise to create and install the works. So for those of you who are simply art lovers, and for all of you that believe that art can make an impact on our community, I ask of you to participate with me for these next several months in creating a series of murals throughout the city of Pueblo that will raise awareness and educate the public, on the most important issues within our city.
Through sales of these tee shirts, I will be able to realize more projects of these types. It is together that we as a community can raise the level of awareness to our citizens and make way for a new generation to live more productively and harmoniously.
I am aiming to raise funds to create and document the creation of numerous socially conscious and engaging art projects throughout the city.