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Entries in Jess Tilley (3)


Pimp My Artwork 071: Snow on the Roses

I woke up to snow on the roses.  I sat there for a few moments watching the cat on the windowsill watching the birds as they flew to and from the feeder.  I had woken up from disturbing dreams.  The dreams weren’t bad per se but they had brought up a lot of issues that I thought I had dealt with.  In fact when I do wake I’m confused.  I don’t feel like I’m still dealing with them. I don’t know it at the time but I’ll get the answer unexpectedly later.

I’m annoyed that I have to write about these dreams because they address insecurities and I don’t want to do that right now.  I want to make coffee and curl up in my bed writing and reading.  I want to be not stressed about a costume and how I’m going to get paintings to a show in the snow.  And why is there snow in October?

When I shot the photo I lifted the roses in my hand. They hung head down as more snow fell around them. It was beautiful and sad at the same time. They looked so lovely in that layer of white crystals but I knew they were slowly dying. "There's snow on the roses" I called to Melissa and in that moment a series was born.

"Snow on the Roses" depicts an aspect of addiction that is hidden.  The women in the project are friends, each of us a former addict.  Looking at any one of us you'd probably never know.  We're all accomplished, well received, put together respected individuals in our communities.  Jess Butler posed the question: "How does one define a drug user?"

I don't know. People that use aren't bad people, there really isn't any good way to sum it up. You just have it in you, there's something that ticks, and it says "I need. I want."

I finished the facial studies for the pieces.  I took three friends and myself and crafted individual works incorportating flowers, symbolism, and animal totems. I plan to make these pieces into life size altars. I'm working with peole to make them move and add multiple layers to the pieces.  This isn't just my project anymore, this is a community project.  This week I start building the model for the larger altars.  Once that's finished we can see how to make it move.  Step by step we push forward.

These are the women involved.  I'm linking to their websites so you can explore their own personal pages, getting a feeling for what they are about.

Jess Butler (Formerly Tilley) worked at Cambridge Needle Exchange as the overdose prevention coordinator. Narcan Diva/Syringe slinger

"It's not about what is wrong or right; it's about saving lives."
Juliet Escoria is a Brooklyn-educated, California-dwelling fiction writer. You can find her entries on the progress of writing her first novel here.
And me, well you all know me.  I wrote Blood and Pudding, it's been called "Sid and Nancy meets On the Road." Taylor Mead once called me the "female Jack Kerouac." later when I asked him about it he said he couldn't remember, he also told me he couldn't remember what he had for breakfast.
"Can I use it anyway?" I asked.
"Oh I don't give a fuck."

The Caravan 026: The Needle Exchange

It's not about what's right or wrong.  It's about saving lives.

Heroin.  It's been a word that slips from my lips over and over.  It's a drug that's been a part of my life since I was a teenager.  I've never done heroin.  I never will, but many of those who I have known and loved have.  Some of them lived, some of them died, but all of their lives had meaning. 

My friend Jess is the overdose prevention coordinator at the Cambridge Needle Exchange.  She works with addicts on a daily basis, creating programs, setting up therapy sessions, and supplying clean needles to those in need.  She works hard at this and does a fantastic job. She is also the person my book Blood and Pudding is dedicated to.  Tuesday evening she posted she had lost a young girl to an overdose.  She's seen it time and time again but it never gets easier.  She knows this, I know this, and you know this.  You want to help, you make progress, and sometimes things happen.  It will always hurt.

Seeing that update broke my heart.  But underneath that update was something truly heartwarming.  A woman commented that she was sorry for the young girls overdose and spoke that she was grateful in her own life for making it through, with the help of Jess's program.  Jess works long hours, she's creating a publication for addicts to tell their stories.  She cares, she's interested, and she connects.  She knows what they have gone through and what they are going through; which is why it is so important to have an organization like the Needle Exchange. 

Please look into the programs offered at your local Needle Exchange.  If you don't have one, suggest one, donations of time or money are always appreciated.

If you live in NYC the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center info can be found here.


Pimp My Artwork 07: Work In Progress-Page of Swords

Meet Brian.  Brian was my fiance when I was nineteen.  We planned on moving to NYC together but it didn't work out that way.  We were keeping everything a secret, I moved, he moved, we fought, we didn't talk, we did talk, we worked things out and then he died suddenly.  My freshman year at college I did my first ink painting of him.  I wish I still had it. (Somehow I think it got ruined when the cellar decided to become a haven for mold.)  I collaged in all the letters we had written and did an ink wash over it.  I haven't painted him since.  It took me ten tries just to get his face right.  As I became increasingly frustrated and teary it dawned on me that I was still very much mourning.  I don't think you ever get over that kind of love and such a quick passing.  Every time I paint a portrait I fall in love with person for that duration of time.  It's unavoidable, you are staring at someone's face for hours trying to get what makes them, them.  With Brian it was his eyes.  I still haven't quite managed to capture it fully and frankly I'm working from blurry pictures and memory.  But here's my work in progress and screen shots of a conversation with my friend Jess, who may be the only person in the world who knew what was really going on or had an inkling.

I'm not to happy with the background so that will probably get changed soon but his face is coming along, slowly but surely.

Conversation: Other people commented in between so I cut and pasted Jess & mine together.


Goodnight & I love you all.