Mary Beth Lawler Art Blog
Well, there goes the hair. This is one of many sinks-full. I knew I had thick hair but this is crazy. I have a wig fitting this afternoon which should be interesting. I'd love to say that I am being very brave about this but I'm not. I cry a lot, grieving for my lost locks. Hair is so tightly associated with our sense of beauty that it's easy to feel ugly, odd, or disfigured when you don't have any. I know it's going to grow back but that's not a big help at the moment. My dear departed Aunt Marie said often, "Everyone gets 15 minutes a day to feel sorry for themselves, then they have to shut up." Ok my 15 minutes is over. I have been thinking lately about all the materials in our lives that cause us harm. I grew up near a chemical plant that researched, developed and manufactured plastics. Many days the air was filled with an acrid smell and sometimes, low lying yellow clouds. I worked for an ad agency as a graphic designer for many years, it was in the days before computers. Hard to imagine isn't it? All the reproduction processes, film, photostats and color keys were done with some sort of solvent or chemical process. Mechanicals were pasted up with rubber cement. Editing or repositioning the copy meant flooding it with rubber cement thinner. My hands would go white when the thinner stripped out all the oils. Spray adhesives were used on a daily basis for mounting presentations. Foolishly we all smoked. We didn't know. We didn't know it was making us sick and worse, we didn't have alternatives. How many art supplies, pigments and paints contained lead before we knew about the harm? How many times did we point a brush with our mouth? Thankfully we have non-toxic art supply everything now, warning labels, ingredient lists, laytex gloves and filter masks. Some materials still aren't the greatest thing for us, but at least we know it and can take measures to handle them safely. Who knows why I got cancer, genetics, environment, exposure to toxic chemicals, all of the above? Take inventory, If you have old materials that might be harmful, get rid of them (safely). If your materials aren't labeled non- toxic then handle them with care. We have enough other hidden hazards without having our art damage our bodies.