I see beauty in decay, in rusted steel, in golden fields, in wings in flight, in the squeal of sirens, the rumble of the el, the rustle of the trees, the song of the birds.

I am equally inspired by the urban landscape where I grew up and where I make art in community with people who use drugs, as I am by the fields and forests where I go to be quiet.

In 2022, there were 107,071 overdose deaths in the US. My artwork is a call to action, a love letter to people who use drugs, a hug of support and community, a message of love to our family and friends who struggle. It tells the stories of the people I’ve met, the trauma I’ve witnessed and the joy I feel through collaborative art-making.

I am the founder of Epidemic (www.epidemicweavings.com), a series of weavings thematically connected by the struggles, the despair, and the stories of hope surrounding addiction. Each weaving is created with strips of fabric on which people affected by addiction write a wish, a prayer, a dream, a memory. The messages of love and loss are knotted and woven together, then suspended from sticks found in parks in Kensington, where I was born and raised and where I practice art as harm reduction. The project is a story about bearing witness, of gaining empathy and compassion, exploring the stigma and shame of addiction and of taking action and reaching beyond the personal to affect change in my community.

Art heals.

photo by Cindy Fatsis