Blackbirds and butterflies. Flora and fauna. Artist Amanda Adkins turned to nature for inspiration in illustrating what life with endometriosis feels like.
"Painting is what I know how to do," she tells The Blossom. "After the first, I kept creating more.”
Endometriosis is a new muse for Adkins, 41, who until only recently, left her killer cramps off the canvas.
“During the past 15 years of my art career, I never addressed endo but I felt like I was letting a part of my womanhood go and I had to do something to say goodbye to that."
Adkins was diagnosed with the disease at 24. Since then, she’s undergone multiple surgeries and, once, suffered complications so severe, doctors put her in a medically-induced coma. Adkins says she fought hard to keep her organs, but eventually decided to have a partial hysterectomy and, later, a bilateral oophorectomy, or the removal of both ovaries in hopes of ending her endo nightmare. The entire traumatic ordeal was the inspiration for Adkins' latest art show Crow Speak, which is currently on display at Grand ArtHaus in Phoenix.
“It was such a relief to get this story out of my system; it felt like it had been building up for years. These needed to be painted. Once I painted one, it was like the floodgates opened up.”
Several paintings have pomegranates or pomegranate seeds to illustrate the disease and all the places where it shouldn't be.
“I had to change the way I was looking at my uterus and my womb and womanhood, so I started painting about what was happening to me. If one in ten women has this disease and our healthcare rights are in jeopardy, it’s my duty to do something about it.
Do something about it, she is. Adkins, along with filmmaker June Lantzer, reached out to other artist-creators Aaron Davis, Michelle Dawn, and Charissa Lucille, and turned their personal endo stories into the short film Endometriosis: Artists who Advocate, which will premiere at the closing of Crow Speak on September 21.
And she’s generously donating a portion of the proceeds from her show back to The Endometriosis Foundation of America.
“I feel it’s important to continue to raise awareness and research. I’ll do anything I can do to spread the word and further the research of this disease,” shares Adkins. “I also feel like the way that it’s being marketed needs to change. Most people assume it just causes infertility, but there’s so much more. I lost part of my bladder to endo. If people knew that it also harms organs, it might get more attention.”
Editor's note: The Crow Speak show runs now through September 21 at Grand Arthaus 1501 Northwest Grand Ave, Phoenix, Ariz. For more of Amanda Adkins' artwork, visit www.amandaadkinsart.com