“Camp Tampon”

This fabulous piece of art is lovingly called “Camp Tampon“, which is a reference to what my friend Nicole called the music festival Lilith Fair. It was exhibited at Touched By Fire in 2008 at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, which is an art show about mood disorders, put on by The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and is one of the bigger shows in Toronto from what I understand. Being 30 x 36 inches, it was one of the largest pieces in the show.

The piece was renamed “Mania in the Key of Psychosis” for the show because I didn’t think “Camp Tampon” would fly and because I was literally psychotic at the time of its creation, I figured that was a better name for it anyway. That title is definitely a mouthful so around this house, we just refer to it as “Camp Tampon”.

This mixed media nightmare contains everything but the kitchen sink and while I can’t be 100% sure of anything’s meaning because I was having a psychotic break while creating it in 2006, I know everything made sense to me at the time. I know that originally the idea was that I was making this painting for my mother’s birthday, in response to my mother saying that I didn’t deserve anything for my birthday and it was this remark that actually caused my mind to snap and for me to get lost in my imagination for about a month, ending in my hospitalization for 10 days and having to take heavy doses of anti-psychotics to come out of it. It took me several years to fully recover and to get on the right path with medication which you can read about it detail here.

At the Touched By Fire show, a man gave me $100 cash simply for having created the piece but being a large, pink painting full of tampons, he couldn’t purchase it because he didn’t have anywhere to hang it.

After many years of thinking about the piece and having it take up a lot of space in my tiny bedroom, I have decided to put it up for sale for $5,000 because it means a lot to me and that’s how much it would take for me to part with it. I believe it to be the greatest piece of art I’ve created to date and I would like to see it go to a good home where someone can truly appreciate it.

Despite being completely out of my mind at the time of its creation, I can safely say that “Camp Tampon” was inspired by Jackson Pollock as I was watching the biopic Pollock about 5 times a day in the days leading up to my psychotic break. The piece was created partially by consciously using Pollock’s “drip method” (liquid paint applied to paint brushes and allowed to be dripped or splattered onto the canvas) as well as my own turkey baster technique which I just read on Wikipedia that Pollock also used. Keep in mind that I was totally and utterly out of my mind when creating the piece but I had used the turkey baster as a penis and I had made it a point to “jizz” on a photo of Oprah Winfrey’s face to the point of zero recognition. I’m not totally sure what I had against Oprah at the time…Having said that, I very much consider this to be a 3-D, mixed media, female-centric (whereas I feel that his were definitely male-centric) version of a Jackson Pollock painting.

As previously mentioned, there are countless things incorporated into the reverted-canvas. On the border of the piece are my ripped up business cards in pink, blue and white, which indicates the difficulty I was having with my identity at the time. Also in the piece there is a cut up driver’s license which would be further evidence of this. I know that during that period, when my mother was being so awful to me, I was having a lot of issues surrounding who I was without my family. We had just moved to our own house in Elmvale, a small town up North in the middle of nowhere, and in doing so we had severed all ties with my heinous she-bitch of a grandmother and the rest of that entire side of my family.

While I have been on my own since I was 15 years old, I had always been within arm’s reach of my family. For example, when I was 19 and had just given birth to my daughter Madison, I was living in a building my grandfather owned (and paying rent), above my mother’s wallpaper store. When I was 22 and going to college, I was living above my grandmother’s furniture store and remained there through the birth of my son, Wes, and my marriage to Blake.

When we moved to our house in Elmvale, I was moving further away from my family than I’d ever been before and I was cutting them out of my life. And it was scary! I had Blake, who I believe can do just about anything as he’s fiercely independent, but I wasn’t sure that was enough and suddenly I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to be as independent as he was either. And as it turns out, at the time, I wasn’t.

 In the artwork, there are two crystals: a Herkimer diamond and a small aquamarine wand (pictured left), both on the bottom of the piece.

I think the inclusion of the gemstones are two-fold. For one, crystals to me are a symbol of my mother who fully believes in their healing powers. I think part of me knew I was not well and I think part of me was throwing my mother away. The other thing is that, at the time, I was very much into New Agey things, metaphysics and Indigo Children, believing that I was one. I also collect crystals believing at the time, like my mother, in their healing properties. Because my psychosis was largely religious in nature, as a lot of psychotic breaks tend to be, the inclusion of the crystals makes sense. I truly believed that I was creating the world’s greatest masterpiece (and hey, maybe I did!) and that this piece was going to make me famous (and hey, maybe it will!) and I think I included the crystals as kind of good luck charms; that if I set my intentions and let them loose on the universe, the crystals would vibrate their way into the collective unconscious and I would achieve my goals.

As you can see in the photo above, there are burnt matchsticks all throughout the painting, which I personally find interesting considering that people with mood disorders are often described as being “touched by fire” (hence the title of the show). I didn’t know this prior to the MDAO’s art show, but apparently there’s a book called “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperamentthat’s about the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity and that’s where the phrase comes from.

All throughout the piece are safety pins, glitter stars and pills. To the right you can see an enlarged image of moonflower seeds, a cigarette butt on which I had written “HOPE

because I had wished to quit smoking and bloated Ibuprofens. Because I had not been medicated yet for my mental illness, the pills are in relation, as is most of the painting, to my daily struggles with the chronic pain of endometriosis. The moonflower seeds symbolize the planting of the seed of hope itself and the Ibuprofen sets the intention. At the time I was very much a believer in the occult and that this was a modern-day magic spell.

In case you were wondering, I didn’t successfully quit smoking that time around, but I have been smoke-free since May 2011.

 To the left is a mini-vignette of what I think is commentary on my identity as an artist at the time. The eye-dropper is representative of the turkey baster I used in the creation of the piece. The paint bottle is inside a box. The ever-present tampon is there, dipped in metallic pink paint. My torn up business cards are there as well. I think this portion of the painting speaks volumes and also speaks for itself.

The final touch of the painting is that at the end I criss-crossed scrapbooking fibers connected with barrettes across the entire thing and one art dealer at Touched By Fire suggested that I did this to create tension. I’m honestly not sure I gave it that much conscious thought, but who knows? Maybe I gave it more unconscious thought than it appears on the surface. The mind is a crazy thing.

Here is a more detailed post about the painting and here is a gallery of more detailed pictures of the piece and more photos are available on request for serious inquiries.

To inquire about “Camp Tampon”, please e-mail me at Sunny@SunnyCrittenden.com