John Davis: For All I Know

Untitled, pen on paper

This evening I’m going to talk about my brother John’s artwork and a little about how a traumatic brain injury and his subsequent rehabilitation have influenced his art practice.  

I’ll try to keep it spicy.

When Tina asked me if I wanted to speak, I wondered how I could, in talking about this selection of John’s work, make it feel relevant to this lecture series.  I zoomed in and out until I lost focus, panicking about what to say that could matter, afraid of how close I have been to this work and how difficult it could make speculating on it for a larger audience.  Then I came to a clearing:

I remember years ago in rehearsal I realized that everything Tina made was about this huge inarticulable experience of being a sister, watching an actual half of your heart bounding around in the world, and what it feels like to see that chunk of heart erased by a big giant eraser, which is an actual thing Eliza’s character Masha described in Tina’s version of Chekhov’s The Seagull. 

And so I think: age, circumstance, magic.  Big giant erasers around every corner.  Here we are, doing all the small things and whistling while we do them, despite the knowledge that it could all, will all, be erased.  

John Davis: For All I Know installation at The Kitchen, March 2017

It occurred to me that if not asked or given the chance, John might never talk about how his experience has afforded him a specific way of doing all those small things.  He might not share the art that he continues to make, so rich with humor, kindness, and a certain openness to not knowing what the fuck the future holds. He doesn’t need to share it. Making stuff is just what he does.  But maybe I do need to share this art, because even though I have been so close to it, all my life, I’m still trying to catch up to that chunk of my heart that is always a few steps ahead of me, that thing I almost saw get erased for good, John, and maybe ask it, how do you keep doing it?  

And: how do our ideas of what could have been affect how we see the splendor of now?  Making stuff?

That’s the backdrop for this story I will share with you tonight. I hope that talking about how art-making stays the course when the prognosis remains unclear is relevant to us right now.  

Thank you for being here.

Warplane, markers and pencil on typing paper

John was born in 1984 to Valerie Walraven and Buzz Davis.  I popped out shortly after.  By the age of three or four, it was clear he possessed what my dad calls an illustrator’s conscience--the rare ability to think, see and draw with perspective.  This x-y-z worldview.  John could, at a very early age, draw things not only on the x and y axis---he could add the perpendicular z axis.  In other words--dimensionality.  

Not only did he have this exceptional grasp of how to draw people and objects to scale using these coordinates, he often drew things in motion.  There was an inherent energy to his work. 

Catching A Baseball, markers and pencil on typing paper

This is a kid’s drawing.  Sure.  The elongated ball and the man trotting toward the base show a pretty advanced sense of how to represent speed and motion.

In our house, we watched a lot of the seminal animators of the Golden Age of American Animation, a prolific period for wartime cartoonists that spanned the thirties through fifties; notable were Tex Avery and other surrealist humorists.

More contemporary creators Mike Judge and Matt Groening crept in later.

Here’s Tex Avery:

Still from Tex Avery’s Northwest Hounded (1946)

Here’s some of my dad’s work:

Samples from my father’s office floor (dates unknown)

My father Buzz was an illustrator as well and was probably John’s biggest influence.  He worked from home, in his studio.  He did book illustration, t-shirt design and sometimes political satire.  His art heroes were mostly animators.  He went to UT in Austin to study fine art back in the 1970’s, but he was turned off by how snidely dismissive his teachers were of “cartoonists.”  What joyless lives those teachers must have led, we reasoned when we heard my dad talk about these art snobs.

This is one of my favorite of John’s illustrations from elementary school:

The Great Beach War Scene, pencil on paper (date unknown)

John and I went to a public Montessori school called Harry Stone in South Dallas, where working at our own pace and having the freedom to break and draw or write or cartoon when we wanted to was not only allowed, but encouraged.  In Montessori school, we learned cursive by tracing sandpaper letters, we learned long division by dividing beads into test tubes, we drew our own maps of the world and colored them in.

John and I were in different classes, but in the same hallway at Harry Stone. He was popular, known for his artwork.  I was known too, for being his little sister.   Incidentally, it was during this time that John came home from school and told my mother that he had a crush on a 1st grader, a little boy who was also an artist.  Named Murphey.  

This is where I guess I put the bookend that John was a typical, happy-go-lucky boy, who liked to draw and be mean to his little sister, and that he experienced a kind of exponential privilege afforded by having the freedom to draw all the time.

John got hit by a car, a little VW Taxi Cab, but a mighty one, in Mexico City on March 10, 1996, when he and my parents and I were on a trip for our spring break.  He was crossing a street inside the very green Chapultepec Park, which is this incredible, sprawling pedestrian zone in Mexico City, the largest urban park in Latin America, then and now, I think.

This was kinda the end of his formal art training.  And the beginning of life with a traumatic brain injury.  

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The Mexican neurosurgeon who saved his life, Dr. Roberto de Leo, caved on his no-kids-in-the-trauma-unit-rule and decided that 10-year-old Emily could handle the truth of what had happened, so in the lobby of the hospital, he told me that it was like someone had taken 10 baseball bats and hit John in the head as hard as they could.

I remember that this made me think of a cartoon.  

I know we are afraid of making light of violence.  I found it reassuring then to think that the character who had been hit in the head with a mallet would be okay, virtually unscathed, in the next frame.  

These cartoon characters that we know so well can withstand scrutiny and impossible injury.

For the grown-ups though, I remember, things were bleak.  John was in a coma and he had a temporal and frontal lobe injury.

His responses to stimulation were hard to see--but they were there--he tapped his finger to music, and when I finally visited him, he squeezed my hand so hard he hurt me.  My mom had to pry us apart.

While John was laid up in that hospital, I should note,  it had been business as usual for Emily--I visited basilicas, worked in a chocolate factory making Easter treats, and climbed the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.  

Climbing one of those pyramids, I can’t remember which one, the steps were so narrow, you had to walk sideways to get to the top.  I did.

 

So when I went to visit him to give him this teeny little glass pyramid I bought him, John’s eyes weren’t following movement in the room, and I knew this mattered because my mom had told me that this is the thing doctors track when they are trying to determine what the extent of a person’s brain damage might be.

It was two weeks before the neurosurgeon finally caught my brother’s eyes tracking my mom in space as she leaned over him.  He saw that and said, "Ah, good.  He will be ok.  He is watching his mama.  You can go home now."  

We left Mexico. My dad reached out of the cab window that was taking us to the airport and somberly bought a rubber Carlos Salinas de Gortari mask from a street peddler. (He was a former president of Mexico.)  There were so many unknowns at that point, but it was known that that rubber mask was funny, even if we couldn’t laugh right then.

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Buzz and John and John’s Far Side shirt (1996)

Back in Texas at Baylor Rehab, John’s executive function was impaired.  This set of mental skills is something that most of us take for granted--just thinking of a task, that lightning flash recognition in our body that we know how to do the thing we have done before or can imagine a way to do a thing we haven’t done before----and all of the infinitesimal things that happen in taking that risk--emotional control, foresight, overriding impulses that would deter, delay or completely negate the action.   John possessed none of these, in that moment--his executive dysfunction was severe. If he wasn’t prompted and pushed to engage with us, he just sat quietly and stared into space.

Where was he?  Of course, we were eager to know.

John was pretty blind, or hard of seeing, at this juncture, but he started to write in the notebook we kept in front of him, and it seemed he was starting to piece together that he had a name, that it was John.  

I Am Somebody? (1996)

“I am // somebody?” he wrote here.  

Yes, of course you’re somebody, we cautiously sang to the hills.  We knew it wasn’t an episode of ER where the short-term memory loss or amnesia was going to dissolve into well-wishes and balloons.  So, what was it, exactly?

And as John woke up and rediscovered a self, himself, how much of the question who am I? would we answer, and how much would we let him decide for himself?

My family had a good jumping-off point:  

When the brain begins to recover from trauma, it starts to make connections the way our naturally maturing brains did when we were growing up.  So, it made sense that a crucial part of rehabilitation in people with TBIs would be some modeling or reconfiguring of early education, to help encourage these neural connections.

This is where I think it is important to note a unique component of John’s story--that our mother, Valerie, was an Early Education specialist and Special Education teacher.  I wanted to say she was a diagnostician because I liked that title but she always corrects me--

“I was only a teacher, just a teacher, a really good one, but just a teacher.”

Essentially, she made sure that children, however their brains were wired, felt empowered by the way that they knew how to communicate with the world.  She made room for intelligence, in all its forms.  And she never made a big deal out of it.

An early interview with my mom in the Dallas Morning News immediately following the accident described her as "rueful.”  Meanwhile, she was writing daily progress reports in these spiral notebooks for John as he began to come out of his minimally-conscious state.

In one exercise, my mom wrote down pairs of opposites, to see if he could fill in the blanks: up and ______, left and _______, black and _______ ... guiding him through the inverses verbally because his vision was so impaired.  This logic, this ability to think of things in terms of their opposites, seemed not to return with John when we began communicating again.  

In hindsight, it’s one of the great privileges his accident bestowed upon him.    

What else, we wondered, in those first few months of 1996, might John’s brain elect to de-prioritize? 

Then my mom wrote in her journal one day, “All of a sudden, he can draw.”  

Moon and Police Smiley Faces, charcoal on paper (1996)

John’s language faculties were still being awakened.  His sounds were slippery, as was his syntax.  Tonally, it was the most pure voice--stripped of its mid-90’s grunge mumble and MTV nuance.  I can only describe it as impossibly neutral, 12 year-old pipes without the dents of experience--this was coinciding with the disappearance of that z axis in his pre-accident drawings, that depth and perspective.

He put nails in the heads of all of the characters he began to draw--crude, t-shaped nails.  

Smoking Soldier, pen on lined paper (1996)

After a few weeks, the smiley faces transformed into more detailed characters, like this soldier, but the nails, punishing and flat on the page, continued.  

Samantha The Rat Saying Hi, colored pencil on paper (1996)

Then John began to sketch with an intent to finish the drawing--an important moment.    There was a fullness and weight to his subjects, a spatial relationship to the page, details.  Having these elements doesn’t make one drawing better than another.  I think we all know that.  But deftly including these elements after not being able to see felt miraculous.  This was coinciding with John’s ability to express an idea out loud that had a beginning and an end.  Full sentences.  

This picture that’s up shows, I thought then and I still think, our pet rat, Samantha.  We had domesticated rats that would sit on our shoulders sometimes.  Our neighbors loved us.

John in his Waterloo Records shirt (1996)

As John started talking more and more, there was the appearance of high rising terminal, or upspeak.  (I know what this is called now because I studied it in school years later.  Back then I just called it “valley girl” talk, this thing where the ends of sentences go up.)

And this may seem like an insignificant development to parse out now. But obviously, how we build our sentences reflects how our brains are organizing signs, the words, and the meanings we’ve attached to them.  It might be the surest way to track that a person is back--right?  That they lived to tell about it.

John tested his understanding of reality while he muscled through these sentences, the ends of each going up in inflection, uncertainty.  

Until then I had never heard someone reclaim their life while also asking if life was real.  

Train went off the track for me here, when I heard that voice, coming out of that (his) body.  Because I knew how close I was, all of a sudden, to a person who might take so many visual and aural cues known to the world and flip them on their sides.  In other words, he was going to be different. And when I heard informed people say that, I didn’t know if they meant different from other people, or different from who he had been.  I just knew that I had a strong desire to protect this person without a script from what I could see would be a lonely dance floor.

Over the years, revisiting his work from this period, I notice how that upspeak translates into his visual art and prose.

These early drawings demonstrate the memory of task and intentionality that are such important benchmarks in the otherwise diagnostically open-ended period following a coma. If John could initiate nothing else, he could pick up a pen and draw or write on lined paper.

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While gathering art for this talk, I come across one of John’s e-mails to me from a few years ago:

Outside of my front door

 I waited for about an hour

 and-a-half

while studying the stars,

 Outside,

  like I knew a constellation.

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Pushing 13 years old but still new in this body that was healing---aside from the brain injury he broke bones.  He weighed less than a 100 pounds.

He returned to Montessori school, this time, a much smaller affair.  The emphasis in this program was also, kinda, being real with yourself and charting your own progress instead of the hammer and grading. Lots of self-evaluation forms, which were John’s favorite, because he could say he was doing really well in every subject and then get to the real work of doodling on the bottoms of the pages.  He passed, took the reins in what we know is a pretty subjective educational system anyways.  

John with sad face in his thoughts, charcoal on paper (date unknown)

Self-portraiture had never been his beat, but it suddenly emerged as a processing tool as John situated himself in what he referred to as “The Third Dimension, whether he depicted himself being chased by living taxi cabs or sitting alone.

This was pre-teen, and this was pre-emoji,  a kind of wild limbo between disinhibition and social withdrawal, where it was hard to express how disconnected from his physical body he felt he was.  

John, during this time, in his old clothes that were now too big for him because of the weight loss, with his new haircut and new glasses, and epilepsy, and this voice, was always smiling.  

He didn’t seem to care when no one laughed at his puns, which were incessant--he was taking pleasure in the shapes and sounds of words again with wild abandon.

His almost every expression was laced with uncontrollable giggling.  

I asked him about this (above) drawing recently, and he said

“I guess I was sad.  I’m sure I had a reason to be sad.  And my hands are behind my back because I probably couldn’t draw how sad I was.”

Minnie in a Yellow Dress, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

It was around this time, middle school, that John’s work became centered around Disney characters, a surprising thematic departure given that we were not a Disney household growing up.  Or....maybe not:  In 2016, this devotion to Disney characters that some neurodivergent individuals have was put on the radar by the story of Owen Suskind in the documentary Life, Animated.  John, like Owen and a lot of other folks, is deeply invested in the re-watching, quoting and re-imagining on paper of these Disney movies, most of them coming-of-age stories, mammals faced with the perennial conundrum of how to be true to one’s self in a world full of darkness, evil, and temptation.  

I was thrilled when this documentary Life, Animated received the attention it did, mostly because of the assertion that has been gaining traction among educators for the past decade--it is vital it to recognize these types of preferred interests of folks who do not communicate in a neurotypical manner as the learning tools that they are, to see their passions in niche subjects, like Disney movies, not as restrictive to social development, but as strengths.  And when I say learning tools--I don’t mean, tools for us to help understand them, I mean, tools for them to understand themselves.  

Who or what do I love, what am I curious about, and how do I get closer to that thing, today, when it can feel so far away?  When I don’t have the words that we’ve agreed are the words?  

These are the questions.  That we all have.

Hyperbaric Oxygen #1, pen on paper (date unknown)

In the summer of 2001, quite a bit later, we took John to London for some alternative medicine--to explore hyperbaric oxygen treatment, where he would sit in a claustrophobic pressure chamber filled with oxygenated air, higher than atmospheric pressure, rumored to encourage plasticity and repair brain tissue.  He drew a version of this, where he’s in a tube lodged in the side of his own brain and sharks are swimming around:

Hyperbaric Oxygen #2, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

The efficacy of this kind of treatment has been hotly contested and all but debunked.

It was effective in making John more aware of the perceived limitations imposed on him by his injury.  Because we put him in a tank, to try to fix him.

Dalmatians, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

His pictures, still largely featuring Disney characters, took a psychedelic turn while he was confined in this sterile oxygen treatment world. He started using what he called an “expressionistic” style, to explode these cinematic backdrops a little.  He took these little guys, these characters he knew so well, and catapulted them into I think, a new style.

Pigs in Outfits, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

I remember a neurolinguistics professor of mine talking about terminals or endings of sentences; functional neuroimaging (fMRIs) allows us to visualize what areas of the brain  increase in metabolism or get used when we read or hear a sentence.  In class, we looked at these brain scans to determine what happens to the brain when we process a sentence that detours from a familiar syntactical arrangement or thought.  For instance, what happens when you hear someone say, “In the morning, I like to put butter and jam on my socks.”  This crazy colorful pattern lights up the brain.  It’s freaking out.  It’s reorganizing.  It’s making sense of something that at first seems strange, but then we are equipped, we have the tools to imagine it.

Now doctors aren’t just looking at fMRIs and admiring the colors for shits and giggles, like I was--they use this technology to help diagnose certain kinds of cognitive impairment among other things.  But to me, this flash of colors was a visual manifestation of what happens to our attentive brains when confronted with non-sequiturs….

Which was the literary device you might say John used the most to express himself.

Up until I studied this in school, I didn’t have the language to describe this phenomenon.

I just hoped that my big brother would bug off and I rolled my eyes and went through the motions, the gestures of an exasperated younger sister, hoping my friends would never try to engage with this person, my brother.  

I needed to know how to engage with him first.

John’s singular reordering of words and images challenged our repetitive, often pedestrian patterns because of its surprising poignancy, this perpendicular time signature.   It’s also what good art, I guess, can do.   It’s what language poets teach us when they go their way on the page and we take the plunge with them.

It’s what I felt that Tina did, all those years ago, when I first read her writing.

It’s what John did, time and time again, like when I asked him to reflect on the accident that changed his life.  He responded:

Remember, life is like a melted box of chocolate.  A box of chocolate that has been asked to walk around White Rock Lake, on a very overcast day.

Just remember, when you go to the lake, always bring an umbrella that has happy faces all over it.”

Here’s a picture of John, walking by the lake with the animals and nature, with a smiley-face umbrella.

Where The Hell Am I, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

Within my family, and then slowly within my group of friends: a relinquishing of causality, our logic, normative social influence.  John would say something, trepidatiously. The thought would come into the room and sit nebulously, waiting for whoever would elect to pick it apart and run with it.  

The words John chose to convey an event that transpired were curious.  These small, small details would coalesce and I would get if not a linear story, a feeling, and as John said them to me, his voice would still be filled with doubt.  

So the question was: what can we say, how can we behave, to make sure he knows he is entitled to his version of reality?  

I promise I’m not gonna quote a bunch of books but---

Dr. Joseph Fins in this awesome book Rights Come to Mind, calls a restructuring of the nuclear family following trauma familio-centric; there is “an enmeshment, a kind of love, that grieves less for what has been lost than values what still remains, finding meaning in disability."

It’s when a family might, in solidarity, decide that what is perceived as a disability could instead be something that rips at the seams of banality.  It’s a silent agreement.  This shift is so inevitable, so programmed into our human-beingness that it is impossible to stave off.  

Our natural inclination is to move toward light.  

Learning is hard, a radical unlearning is harder.  We had been frantically waiting for John’s every drawing and turn of phrase to reveal something about his being.  Now we stopped trying to attach meaning to everything.  Instead, we let him draw, and surround himself in the centripetal force of his drawing.  Conservative diagnosis and the risk of getting all up in the business of someone who is a teenager, though he might not identify as one, made us back off too.

Knocking Down The Twin Towers, pencil on paper (circa 1999)

John included the Twin Towers in a lot of pictures.  I used to get really embarrassed by this.  I thought he unnerved people with the mention of them and his depictions of them in order to be closer to something universally accepted as tragic.  I thought it was a shortcut to feeling for him, his obsession with the Twin Towers.

This past January I learned that John has always been taken with them, long before 9/11, ever since we went up to the observation deck when we were kids visiting New York City.  He has always been drawn to their grandeur, and how there is nothing in Downtown Dallas quite like them.  

John in Catholic School, pen on paper (date unknown)

John attended a Catholic high school and, despite his reluctance to ever discuss his impressions of the school, his art showed a confluence of his favorite subjects--Disney characters, The Simpsons, small animals, the iconography of the church, and biblical references. You’ll see in the gallery his picture of Alice in Wonderland carrying the cross, Mary feeding Jesus in the manger, raccoons congregating over scripture, and porcine figures enjoying a last supper.

When I used to ask John which parts of the Bible were the most meaningful to him, he referenced Genesis 4:11.  This is, of course, the story of Cain and Abel.  

Jesus?, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

John and I had extremely limited exposure to the Bible growing up, to the horror of many family friends who thought we needed spiritual guidance.   I mean, I asked my parents once why Jesus was always wearing a sombrero.  Becca Blackwell explained to me just last year the story of Adam and Eve and I was like this shit is fucked up.  But John immersed himself in theological imagery and readings during this time.  He found it compelling.

John attended one semester of college in Kingsville, Texas.  I had started school up in New York, and it was the first time we both were away from home.  All of a sudden, he was drawing landscapes, like this one.

Fish Swimming Upstream, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

My mother commissioned him to illustrate an ABC book she was writing.  The assignments included drawing “vociferous vultures” and “zigzagging zebras.”

Vociferous Vultures, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

Zigzagging Zebras, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

And some remnants from his more iridescent psychedelic places that are his alone--

Dewdrops, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

His practice became more porous during this period of time while he was away.  He was immersing himself in the folds and folds of images available online that he could ponder, replicate, or draw around.  

Working at Taco Bell, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

John graduated and joined the workforce--he worked at Taco Bell on Mockingbird Lane.  He wore other people’s name tags when he couldn’t find his own.  He knew he was a cog in the Corporate America machine.  It was his way of sticking it to the man.  

Taco Bell #2, pen on paper (date unknown)

He frequently told people who ordered food at the Taco Bell counter how much he disliked his job.  He was told this was inappropriate behavior, that that was what journals were for.  No problem.  John wrote in his journal about how much he hated his job and then shared his journal entries with people at Taco Bell.  He was fired.  

While he looked for a new job, he would immerse himself in his art.

Here’s a Wooly Mammoth.

The Wooly Mammoth, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

“A wooly mammoth.  The last one.  It looks like everything is going bye bye.  It’s all been taken away.  Except for the moon, apparently.  The last of the mammoths.  So sad.  Big old furry elephants.  That’s not what they were called. But.”

Adulthood.  He has a job now at Ernst and Young, a consulting firm in Dallas.  He works hard and treats his co-workers with respect.  He is commissioned to draw pictures, just like my father always told him he would be.

Dog Matador, colored pencil on paper (date unknown)

He draws animals again, calmly being animals, or running late to gigs, dealing with all the stressful errands that animals also have, often engaged in dialogue, talking to each other, “way up there, where no one can hear them.”

He draws his apartment, often, which is wall-to-wall covered with drawings, paintings, certificates of achievement, crosses. He draws the porch, with the satellite dish, and Murphey’s room, the Bushwick sky a bunch of swirls...there’s some daydreaming.

Here’s Murphey’s room.

Murphey’s Room, ink on paper, 2011

I suppose that we do return to the things we were first curious about, and in these more recent still lifes I see John striving for that precision, honoring the illustrator’s conscience, so determined to represent things as they actually are.

For All He Knows.

Photo of John on a rock, 1997

I will try also, in closing, to return to what I said I was interested in at the beginning of this talk, the durability of an art practice when there is no projected outcome, how in questioning why we keep doing it we also make space for it, how making space for the many powerful forms these practices take can be the thing that keeps bringing us closer, showing us where our realities, and our interpretations of them, intersect.

There is a lot of important work being done by scholars and activists who seek a paradigm-shift in the way we think about neurodiversity.  Neurodiversity is the long-due recognition of the vast number of ways our brains can be innately wired or re-circuited following injury. 

This work and activism that is being done--

the beating heart of it is a kind of education reform that specifically addresses how to weave strength-based assessments and valuation of different kinds of brain wiring into the classroom so that all children can feel empowered, and not estranged.  

This is essential, this sort of reform. Visibility starts when we are kids.  

In my work and art practice, I hope to illuminate the immediate necessity of broadening our understanding of Neurodiversity in this moment--with respect to how we define advocacy, and how we continue diminishing the nearsighted social norms that promote (neuro)typical communities that actively exclude certain populations of people.

But inclusivity is dangerous if it is championed for just funneling people into what is considered our mainstream.  That is not a beginning and that is not an end. It has been a dream presenting John’s work along with other artists who refuse to be or are uninterested in being a part of a known, accepted scene---they make stuff because at some point in their life making stuff was a tool to carve a space, in which to live.  Making stuff was a way to live.

It’s probably clear after hearing John’s story that my family has been incredibly fortunate to be able to make space for John to live his life on his own terms. But in a surprising number of head injury cases, where families might not be able to receive the necessary medical care for the injured person, there is a rush to check off a box that means “progress,” to expedite the rehabilitative period.   When this happens, people who have suffered head injuries can be left in a minimally-conscious state, neglected, not given the chance to engage in mechanisms of recovery.  Families are told prematurely what their future might hold.  They are sometimes told to keep their expectations low.   This happens because the medical community and our society often fixate on what we think progress looks like instead of what it could feel like to an injured person recovering in their own time, on their own terms. 

All I want is to stop trying to label and pathologize people’s lives and instead move over and let them be pursuant of the things they love.  I want to know why we need people to be fixed, normal, better when those words can cut so deep.  But mostly, I want to celebrate that in this unending slew of questions that will continue to come up, there are people who ultimately are not waiting for answers or to be granted space to work--they just keep going--and there are places sometimes that are hip enough, that are in the know enough, to make room.  On that note-

I want to thank Tina and the Kitchen, Lumi, for having us, Nick Zeig-Owens, Jess Barbagallo and of course, Murphey Wilkins, our sister, who designed, printed and hung all of what you see here today.  But mostly, John!

March 2017

John Davis: For All I Know installation at The Kitchen, March 2017

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