I submerge my body in cool water, inviting the silence to wrap its cold talons around my bones. The weightlessness of my liquid cocoon pulls the tension from my muscles like six million needles passing though my flesh. It’s dark and eerie under the water, but it is also calm.
Sleep paralysis, induced by post traumatic stress disorder, will infect you with a craving for calmness. It instills a longing to wake without exhaustion. A desperation to sleep without fear.
The shadows that haunted my childhood bedside faded with time and practice. And these new demons, waking me from a deep sleep with the barrel of a gun pressed against my forehead, they too shall pass. Though haunting, their recurring presence offers a sign of progress. Each time they stalk my exhausted body they appear slightly fainter than the night before.
This exhibition, much like the spit bite intaglio I practiced as a teen, is a ritual. The ferric chloride that dribbled across my copper plates etched impressions of the freshwater lake that brought me comfort as a child. Like a suture to an open wound, each etching closed a chapter.
And with this new sacrament, I forbid my demons. With every misty drip, each slow intentional breath, I resurrect the stillness I worshiped as a child floating naked in a moonlit lake. I’ve blended their haunting silhouettes into panels of birch, not unlike the dock I stained with water bleeding off my body after leaving demons at the bottom of that lake. With this water and wood, I forced them out of their sleepless terrors. Through this ritual, I reclaimed a space. I now rest calmly on my mattress, and within my mind, where shadows once lurked. And the terror that birthed these shadow demons continues to drift away, leaving me to revel in my undisturbed darkness, finally able to sleep.