When I was ﬁve or six, I wanted to become an astronaut when I was older. I would dream of ﬂy‐ ing across outer space and vis‐ iting the crescent moon. Looking back at Earth and ﬁnd‐ ing it a single speck within an ocean of stars, vast and inﬁnite. By the time I grew up, that dream had already been aban‐ doned. I had already surren‐ dered my sense of wonder to an awareness of the inﬁnity that al‐ ready existed within the con‐ ﬁnes of my mind: my poor understanding of astrophysics.
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letter from the editors
Dear Reader, Welcome to Issue 13 of The Muse. This year has been strenuous for all members of our community and has continued to disrupt our sense of the ordinary. This has left many of us to wonder what the future might look like—will we ever return to a sense of normal? This idea of "wonder" introduced a myriad of different questions pertaining to our thoughts during the pandemic and the medical humanities in general. Wonders about when the pan‐ demic will end. Wonders about how vaccines work. Wonders about how doctors and patients are feeling. We would like to sin‐ cerely thank all of our contributors for sharing their wonders with us, and we hope that these stories illuminate perspectives that you have not previously considered. Despite the restrictions that the pandemic has placed upon us, we have been grateful to continue building connections with our community and serving as a platform for community stories to be heard. In March, we partnered with Keeping Six - Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League to have a public discussion about the philosophy and practice of harm reduction, and how the pan‐ demic acts as a barrier to care. Thank you to Marcie McIlveen and Lisa Nussey for your time and dedication for making this event possible, and we look forward to our continued partnership. We would also like to thank McMaster University's Oﬃce of the President, the Department of English & Cultural Studies, and the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) Program for their con‐ tinued sponsorship of The Muse. Lastly, as the school year comes to an end, we would like to express our gratitude and farewell to Samuel, our EIC, as he graduates and takes time off for academic research. To all our graduating students, thank you immensely for your contributions and for making The Muse possible, we hope that this has been a rewarding experience and we look forward to hearing about your continued success! Sincerely,
Alexandro Chu Editor-in-Chief
table of contents
The Muse works continuously with community partners to ensure unheard voices in healthcare have a platform to express themselves. The sci‐ entiﬁc community is an area ﬁlled with artiﬁcial barriers that prevent individuals from sharing their ﬁndings with others. As part of our partner‐ ship with the McMaster Child Health Conference (MCHC), we have published a winning abstract to help raise awareness for their research. 4 | SPRING 2021
To learn more about the MCHC, visit mcmasterchildhealthconference.ca.
dreams Mary Rounceﬁeld woman's fascination Marly Joseph Desir she, her hands, and they Chloé Lechat mental illness & creativity Ozaques interview with Dr. Christina Wekerle precaution Ismali Odetola things doctors say Nozomi invasion, invasion Calum Stamper the style statement Shruti Vij mchc winning abstract Isabella Stefanova what's in your meds Kam Yew Chee untouchable glance Guido Nosari REturn 2 wonder Diana de Sousa Matoso wonder Mae Bayu the poetic complexities of memory Heba Khan city of celebration and dreams Victoria Valuk
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
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dreams ARTIST Mary Rounceﬁeld This drawing records me and my experience of a general anaesthetic during a hip re‐ placement operation. I deﬁnitely experienced wonder as I drifted through space and time. When I awoke I was being reassured by a kindly nurse telling me that the surgery was all done and that it had all gone well.
Mary Ronceﬁeld is a freelance artist, graduating as a mature artist from the University of the West of England in 2009. She has exhibted extensively in the UK and abroad. Her work reﬂects her interests ranging from human rights, the rights of women and girls, mathematics, and science. She recently presented her work to the International Gender Studies Group at the Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (England).
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woman's fascination ARTIST Marly Joseph Desir This painting describes the feel‐ ing of wonderment caused by something beautiful and re‐ markable, which is a yellow ﬂower.
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Marly Joseph Desir studied at Miami Dade College. He is known for his original style, ability to create, and his aesthetic sense. Convinced that there is enough ugliness in the world, his work captures beauty, elegance, and grace, through his usual themes of women, landscape, and ﬂowers. He is also an art historian and has received many international awards.
she, her hands, and they AUTHOR Chloé Lechat Dorena does wonders. That's what she does. Dorena has hands that work wonders. People come in broken, and she ﬁxes them. Not that Dorena wants to work miracles. It's what she does. There's this baby and mommy coming into the prac‐ tice. The baby can't breathe well, and the mommy can't breathe right either, how could she? So Dorena puts her hands down, she lets her hands listen to this little body. They listen to the breath‐ ing and they speak to each other. The right hand speaks to the left hand. The left hand is the one that gives the sensa‐ tions and the right hand is the one that translates them into movement. 10 | SPRING 2021
Then Dorena's hands slowly work. The baby some‐ times smiles more and cries suddenly. The mother still doesn't breathe. Dorena takes a deep breath and tells the mother to breathe into Dorena’s hands. The mother cries a little. The baby cries a little too. Dorena's left hand is burning hot, she feels so much. The right hand tells the left one to move on her belly, the right one will stay on her head. And that's where Dorena will listen to her head, she will seek her knowledge of the hu‐ man body, organs, fasciae, bones, their grip, their position‐ ing, their movement, their hin‐ drance. She makes a gigantic web in her head then connects all her knowledge of the human body by pulling it together like
the threads of a spider's web. When Dorena has ﬁn‐ ished connecting everything, she makes calculations. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes it's fast but there is always a result. The mom calmed down during the construction of Dorena’s canvas and the baby fell asleep. Sometimes the baby’s daddy rings. He comes late. The process has to be started again but the work goes faster : Dorena's hands now know the child’s body. Dorena communicates the result to her hands, the left hand goes straight to the right hand to hold her, warm her up, it's up to them both to make the decisions now. Dorena puts her hands on the child's chest and will release the pressure from
the baby's lungs. Dorena knows people well. And Babies are wonders. And Dorena does wonders. She takes care of them all. The young and the old, the rich and the poor, the sick and the far-sighted, the funny and the not funny, the sad and the mean, the beautiful and the ugly, those who smell good and those who smell bad. Sometimes there are those who talk too much and think that Dorena is there to lis‐ ten to the problems in their head too. They say, "everything is connected, isn't it?" Dorena says, “yes,” but she knows that if they knew that everything was connected, they wouldn't be here, they wouldn't have all these prob‐ lems in their bodies and also in their heads. They wouldn’t talk so much and try to shut down what is screaming so loudly. Dorena doesn't like it when they mix everything up. Dorena would like to treat patients that are interesting be‐ cause sometimes her hands get bored. And her head too. It's never a good sign when a magi‐ cian is bored. It is necessary to be careful. After all, the storm is coming, the birds are ﬂying low, and the atmosphere is heavy. Go home quickly, chatty people. At home Dorena paints and makes music, she impro‐ vises on the canvas as she im‐ provises on the piano, she has music in her skin, rhythm under her bones.
She often paints the sea that gets carried away. Green and dark blue colors with foam on top of a wave. Sometimes Dorena gets tired of working miracles. It can be tiring working miracles, right? So, Dorena cooks. She throws coconut oil in the big pot, chops the onion, turns on the hood and begins the mar‐ vels. It's a delight in the apart‐ ment because the ﬂavours of all the countries are called in the big pot, the scents of the south of France and those of Italy sometimes. The smells of Peru and often of Asia. Dorena's hands recharge in garlic and lemon, spices and
ginger, cloves and tturmeric. Dorena is on the boat that goes to fetch the ﬁsh, the one that sails on the raging sea that she often draws. Dorena tames the waves of oregano and nutmeg with such passion. Dorena closes her eyes and breaths in. The baby wakes up sud‐ denly with a deep breath. Daddy has tears in his eyes. He takes the woman deeply relaxed in his arms. They shake Dorena's hands very much. They will come back to squeeze them again until Dorena closes the door. Dorena is their magician. She works wonders, that's what she does.
Chloé Lechat is a Franco-Swiss author and stage director based in Berlin. Following her extensive musical education, she created the Liese Nebel music theatre company, where her works focus on the themes of inequality between men and women, oppression and domination, and the perpetual construction of hierarchies. In other projects, she explores the issue of identity, gender, and sexuality. Graphic by Sizhe Chen.
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mental illness and creativity ARTIST Ozaques
I wonder if mental disorders have a big effect on one's cre‐ ativity? Is it only psychology that can overcome mental dis‐ orders? Meanwhile, the intangi‐ ble value in culture contains the power for creativity. As an artist, what would I ﬁnd if I ex‐ perimented with these two things? What is the relationship between mental disorders and creativity? In 2019, I collabo‐ rated with a psychologist to conduct a collaborative experi‐ ment using batik as the medium. I did this collaboration to get answers to my aforemen‐ tioned curiosity. I believe that a
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person's creativity can improve mental health. I invite collabora‐ tors (people with schizophrenia) to release their negative emo‐ tions by making batik. And the results are really interesting. The photo here is the result of my collaboration as an artist with mental health survivors. The caregiver who accompa‐ nied the survivor was amazed by the beauty he produced. So, through this collaboration, I found that a form of beauty is still contained in creativity, even though the person has mental health problems.
Ozaques is a visual artist from Yogyakarta, In‐ donesia Ozaques loves working in multiple methods, as well as experimenting to create his own art. Aside from practicing art, he was also involved in the Indonesia Schizophrenia Care Community (KPSI) and built a creative space called AISTHESIS Creative Space. The space focuses on exploration, experimentation, and collaboration between artists and non-artists to raise mental health awareness through art and other creative ways..
dr. christina wekerle
a discussion on youth mental health INTERVIEW BY Y Abumustafa & K Meyerman
Dr. Christine Wekerle is an as‐ sociate professor in pediatrics at McMaster University special‐ izing in the ﬁeld of clinical psy‐ chology. Much of Dr. Wekerle’s work is focused on youth men‐ tal health, child maltreatment, and harm reduction. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Child Abuse and Neglect Journal and the founder of the mental health app, JoyPop. Q: Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to enter the ﬁeld today? I went to graduate school in clinical psychology wanting to help people and was able to 14 | SPRING 2021
work in very broad areas of close relationships, violence, and trauma. I was able to work in the area of child sexual abuse, as well as child maltreat‐ ment more generally, largely fo‐ cusing on prevention. In other words, rather than trying to un‐ derstand the impact of child maltreatment, adversity, and trauma, we were focused on prevention, what works, and where we should explore next. The ﬁrst prevention inter‐ vention that I helped to develop was the Youth Relations Project, which is a dating vio‐ lence prevention program. Ado‐ lescent dating violence was a
fairly unknown area—we strug‐ gled to ﬁnd pre-existing inter‐ ventions that worked—but the data in our randomized con‐ trolled trial (RCT) not only showed a drop in dating vio‐ lence experienced, but also a drop in trauma symptoms! We hadn’t speciﬁcally targeted trauma symptoms per se, but our research hinted that trauma symptoms were something that needed to be looked at further. My ﬁrst publication was in 1998, and I have been conduct‐ ing related research since. Q: What makes studying mental health in adolescents unique?
Adolescence is such an important area in learning lessons and is also an impor‐ tant developmental area in terms of brain development. They are going to develop more in terms of abstract thinking, conceptualization, and strategic thinking. Therefore, this is a point where you can have a lot of positive change. During this stage, adolescents are also supposed to take risks, which are a part of ﬁguring out their own identities. Given this, it is a really great period to provide in‐ terventions, as youth are really energized to go with that extra help. Q: What are the biggest causes of poor mental health in univer‐ sity students? Have these changed since the pandemic? Yes, I do think they have changed. Previously, I think the major causes for poor mental health were stress and mal‐ adaptive coping. For example, drinking to cope, using sub‐ stances to cope, or sex. This is the quick thing that individuals often do to cope to make them‐ selves feel better. I would also say connectedness is another factor and I think that has really come in with the pandemic. These feelings of being discon‐ nected often amplify the stress impact greatly. Q: Are there any treatment/life‐ style changes that you would recommend to anyone suffer‐ ing from poor mental health? We do know from re‐ search that exercise effectively
addresses mild to moderate de‐ pression. I think incorporating deep breathing is another broad beneﬁt. When we think of things like yoga, a big piece of that is deep breathing. When you think of mindfulness, a big piece of that is calm breathing. Q: Tell us about JoyPop? The app came about through understanding that technology has a strong role in the lives of youth today and un‐ derstanding that we have a lot of evidence on what to do. Other apps haven’t explored all those aspects of mental health, with some focused on medita‐ tion, and others on exercise or nutrition, but trying to pool them all together through the psycho‐ logical sciences is what is im‐ portant. When we talk to youth in our consultations, they are al‐ ways dealing with mental health under stressful circumstances, such as university, perceived pressures on physical appear‐ ances, performance anxiety, etc. We also focused on boys who were victims—observing how they pursue their resilience —we knew we required gaming to capture their diverse inter‐ ests and adversity in JoyPop. Previous research on Tetris was signiﬁcant, it indi‐ cated that playing it showed a reduction in trauma symptoms and it can serve as a distraction task because you’re focusing on manipulating blocks. It is hard to be focused and nervous at the same time when your fo‐ cus is really high—if you provide
the distraction of Tetris, it can help alleviate something else. We also know that some people are visual learners and research has shown that art features have beneﬁts in mental health apps. Sleeping is also a big issue for all of us whether we are mentally healthy or not. Therefore, we also incorporated ease of sleeping features with water sounds, based on our work on water quality with the Six Nations. Our research also points to self-compassion as an im‐ portant construct, so being able to self-love, self-care, and being gentle with yourself is critical when you make mistakes. Therefore, we created journal‐ ing prompts for deﬁning selfcompassion and gave individu‐ als opportunities to write about their own self-compassion. We also saw that social connected‐ ness in research is the top re‐ silience factor and we strived to incorporate this in two ways. Firstly, we have a drop-down menu of 24/7 hotlines, as we really want users to be able to talk to someone rather than text. Secondly, we have a “circle of trust,” which includes up to six people who you know will pick up the phone when you call; it could be a caseworker, an elder, a mentor, or whomever. Learn more about JoyPop at: linktr.ee/JoyPopApp Read the full interview at: themusemcmaster.ca ISSUE 13 | WONDER | 15
precaution PHOTO BY Ismail Odetola Bolatito is a passionate corpo‐ rate social responsibility oﬃcer, who has volunteered with NGOs across Nigeria and Europe, such as the Women at Risk In‐ ternational Foundation (WARIF), Camp Adventure Africa, the Ro‐ tary Club of Lagos, and the Smile Care Initiative. For years Bolatito has been ﬁghting rare diseases herself, such as en‐ dometriosis, peptic ulcer dis‐ ease, migraines, hand seizures, and she is also prone to the cold and ﬂames. But she had looked beyond her own predica‐ ments and found strength to serve others who might be in need.
Ismail Odetola is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice focuses on social inclusion, diversity, technology, the environment, health, peace, and ecological justice in the world today. His visual works have won awards and prizes around the world, and has been featured in international exhibitions. He has also been recognized by organizations such as UNESCO, OECD, and FIBA.
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things doctors say AUTHOR Nozomi “WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?” I was just seeking medical attention for an issue... “I MEAN IN CANADA.” … I was born here. “Do you want me to help you with your gown?” I can dress myself... “If you need a man, I’m always available.” … “IF YOU’RE SEEING A COUNSELLOR THEN YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE BEHAVIOURAL ISSUES.” I’m just working through some trauma. Here’s another one, I guess... “YOU BETTER BE GONE FROM HERE ONCE I GET BACK.” I don’t understand why I’m being denied help... “He performed a procedure on your mother but didn’t stitch her up. She’s been bleeding out for hours.” ... “You know what I think? You’re the cause of everyone’s problems.” ... I wonder if I’m crazy or if it might be something else .
Nozomi is someone who has lost faith in the medical system and is struggling to understand the whys of everything that's happened. Graphics by Cezara Ene
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Calum Stamper is an artist from North York‐ shire whose work explores the nature and rela‐ tionships of modern culture behaviours in present-day society and the consequences cre‐ ated by the expansion of digital technology. Stamper’s contemporary representation is a re‐ ﬂection of this artist’s perspective on discussed issues in the art industries and media. Stamper is an alumnus of the University of Sunderland and Northern School of Art, who was shortlisted for Ezio Student Awards in 2017/ 2019 and has exhibited work internationally and in the UK.
invasion, invasion ARTIST Calum Stamper "Invasion, Invasion” explores the nature of the photographic print and its devaluation in the evergrowing digital culture. To com‐ ment on the ever-changing state of our modern society, Stamper questions the sentimentality of a photographic artefact and if pho‐ tographs can be still considered an accurate historical object. Hence, to interrogate this notion of historical truth, Stamper has explored this by using found im‐ agery from a family archive with the zink photographic prints pro‐ duced to create a selection of still-life imagery that questions the use of everyday digital stick‐ ers, like emojis, as a tactical use of memetic warfare to question if the ability to “take back control” of our privacy in the digital age is possible, considering how the same technology is utilised to collect and claim personal data generated by you the “digital citi‐ zen” who use it.
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the style statement ARTIST Shruti Vij My painting evokes a feeling aroused by something strange and surprising. This depicts an emotion which is excited by novelty and is not a cliche art‐ work. It is ﬁgurative yet ab‐ stract. This work is unusual and not so well understood, hence it is a WONDER!
Shruti Vij is a NIFT, Delhi graduate, art enthusi‐ ast, and painter with an individual style. She has always been an avid follower of art but ac‐ knowledged it as her true calling only recently, when she plunged herself into the world of painting, never to emerge. Painting is not a mere vocation for her, but rather a passion. From depicting her innermost feelings to creat‐ ing a colourful world as she sees it, to recreat‐ ing pieces that catch her fancy, painting gives Shruti an outlet to express what is beyond words. Shruti is a Gurgoan based artist who’s originally a Leather designer by profession. She blends her artistic skills with experiences in the fashion ﬁeld, bringing about a perfect marriage of my her passions. She has also collaborated with various reputed interior decorating brands with her artwork, and recently started a stint as an independent interior stylist.
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variation in interpretation of 24-hr ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in children with confirmed or suspected hypertension by Canadian pediatric nephrologists and cardiologists Stefanova I.1, Bamhraz A.2, Fournier A.3, Harris K.4, Filler G.5, Noone D.6, Teoh C.W.6, Dionne J.4, Chanchlani R.2 1Michael
G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada of Pediatric Nephrology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada 4Division of Pediatric Cardiology, BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada 5Division of Pediatric Nephrology, University of Western Ontario, Kingston, ON, Canada 6Division of Pediatric Nephrology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada 2Division 3Division
background • Oﬃce-based blood pressure (BP) measurements are limited by white coat effect, masked hypertension, and lack of nocturnal values • Ambulatory blood pressure moni‐ toring (ABPM) reﬂects more accu‐ rate BP measurements over twenty-four hours • Unclear how physicians interpret ABPM and make management de‐ cisions
table 1 Physician Respondent Demographics (N=69) Category
25-34 35-44 45-54 >54 Male Female Pediatric Nephrology Pediatric Cardiology 0-5 6-10 >=11 University-based Community-based
6 (8.7) 15 (21.7) 26 (37.7) 22 (31.9) 36 (52.2) 32 (46.4) 32 (46.4) 37 (53.6) 14 (20.3) 10 (14.5) 45 (65.2) 64 (92.8) 2 (2.9)
23 (33.3) 42 (60.9)
Canada International Both
48 (69.6) 8 (11.6) 13 (18.8)
1-3 4-6 >=7 Yes No Unsure
6 (8.7) 31 (44.9) 32 (46.4) 34 (49.3) 20 (29.0) 10 (14.5)
0-2 2-5 >5 Yes No Unsure Yes No
11 (15.9) 22 (31.9) 28 (40.6) 39 (56.5) 6 (8.7) 16 (23.2) 23 (33.3) 40 (58.0)
Characteristic Age (years) Gender Specialty Years in Practice
Specialists at Centre
• Investigate variation in pediatric ABPM interpretation and subse‐ quent management decisions Guideline Use among Canadian pediatric nephrologists and cardiologists Number of ABPM Machines
methods • Survey was circulated to Cana‐ dian pediatric nephrologists and cardiologists via email • Survey content included: baseline demographics (see Table 1);
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ABPM Machines Validated Dedicated Pediatric Hypertension Clinic
ABPM use; ABPM indications; ABPM interpretation; subsequent management choices
figure 1 ABPM parameters for which nephrologists and cardiologists would modify or initiate treatment for various medical conditions
figure 2 ABPM parameters for which nephrologists
would modify or initiate treatment for various medical conditions
• Survey was sent to 196 physi‐ cians (128 cardiologists, 68 nephrologists) • 69/196 total responses, 46/196 complete responses • Majority recommended ABPM for conﬁrmation of hypertension or for determining treatment effective‐ ness in a hypertensive patient (95.6%) • Most common indications for ABPM among nephrologists: con‐ ﬁrmation of hypertension (100%); evaluation of hypertension in CKD (100%); evaluation of eﬃcacy of antihypertensive treatment (92.3%); evaluation of hyperten‐ sion in renovascular hypertension (80.8%); evaluation of hyperten‐ sion in obesity (79.6%) • Most common indication for ABPM among nephrologists was hypertension conﬁrmation (90%)
• Majority use cut-off value of mean systolic BP > 95th percentile to diagnose hypertension (76.1%) • Variation in treatment decisions for isolated diastolic hypertension, elevated BP load >50% with normal mean BP, and isolated night-time hypertension • Treatment decisions similar be‐ tween nephrologists and cardiolo‐ gists for essential hypertension • Variation in treatment decisions between nephrologists and cardi‐ ologists for obesity and congenital heart disease)
Indication for ABPM
Interpretation for ABPM
strengths • First study to investigate differ‐ ences in interpretation of ABPM among Canadian pediatric nephrologists and cardiologists • Distribution via email reached
• Low response rate, which affects validity of results • Few community-based respon‐ dents
conclusions • No difference between nephrolo‐ gists and cardiologists • Management decisions differ based on the condition, even though current guidelines apply to all conditions • Gap in present guidelines creates ambiguity regarding management decisions for different ABPM re‐ sults • More protocolized approach and more data on BP patterns and prognosis may help to standardize practice
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what's in your meds? ARTIST Kam Yew Chee Most of us will be on medica‐ tions at a certain period of our lives, be it long or short, or even if it’s just a one time deal. But have you ever WONDERed what’s in your meds? Or do you blindly swallow whatever pre‐ scriptions you're given without even a blink of an eye? Is there no need to enquire more; as long as it reduced your pain, im‐ proved your conditions and re‐ solved your ailments? What if the consequences of the meds lead you to take it for life? Or even the need to take it occa‐ sionally? Will it be worth it?
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Kam Yew Chee is a freelance artist, born and raised in Penang, Malaysia. He is passionate with different media and art making technique experimentations. With a previous scientiﬁc background, he embarks on his art journey by marrying both his artistic and scientiﬁc skills, giving birth to an artistic Frankenstein of the two disciplines.
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untouchable glance ARTIST Guido Nosari De Danieli I am presenting a series of 4 works inspired by the pandemic period we are living and have lived. I live in Bergamo, which was the ﬁrst city ever in the West to be heavily affected by the virus, with many deaths, even some of my rela‐ tives and friends. From one day to the next I have seen the value of simple gestures change, such as a hug, a caress, the approach of two people: from gestures of affection they have become dangerous gestures, carriers of a dis‐ ease, almost a way of spreading a plague. In the works that I propose I want to underline this 28 | SPRING 2021
aspect: the gold leaf, present on the silk spread over the charcoal drawing, is imprinted on the imprint of a human contact. The gold leaf is spread where a ﬁnger, a palm, a part of the body have touched the portrait, at the same time enriching it but also depriving us of its sight. The imprint of the touch becomes present on the skin of the portrait almost like a skin infection, but golden for the possibilities it brings with it. In the future, will we be able to fully regain the richness of touching each other?
Guido Nosari De Danieli works between Milan and Berlin, using different materials, including textiles, painting, photography and installation, to explore the relationship between body, cloth‐ ing and touching, in different ways. Among his exhibitions are the installation at the Jewish Mu‐ seum in Berlin, the solo show at the Shang Yuan Modern Art Museum of Beijing, and the victory of numerous international residences and prizes, such as the ten-year anniversary of the Modena Photography Foundation.
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REturn to wonder AUTHOR Diana de Sousa Matoso “We cannot conceive of matter being formed of nothing, since things require a seed to start from... Therefore there is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements.” - William Shakespeare REturn is a way back to where it once was, a previous place, state or condition, but if every turn of the way is different, it is only wise to expect that each return will be so too. We never go back as we were because we accumulate experience and life hap‐ pens in such ways that it is impossi‐ ble not to be transformed by it. We are made of the same wa‐ ter that runs in the rivers, the same earth below our feet and even the same dust from far away stars. We are shaped by sun cycles, moon phases, seasons of the year, ocean tides... We are moved by unseen cur‐ rents pulled by inﬁnite polarities stretching from within all the way out to space. These cycles are the rhythms pulsing us into life and even though, these inﬂuences are not al‐ ways perceivable, they are invariably present and the more we ﬂow with the tides ups & downs, the easier it will be to cruise, because life is an ocean and waves our paths, we can surf them or dive but we deﬁnitely can’t hide. Cycles are not circles but rather spirals, that’s why we’re never here again and that is the importance of Now. These are a return in a way with an inherent duality in occur‐ rences and perspectives. Some are short, others very long, there are cy‐ cles within cycles and I came to be‐
30 | SPRING DECEMBER 2021 2020
lieve they’re kind of cosmic clocks. Accepting that change is the only constant, allows us to free our‐ selves and ﬂow in wonder through the realm of all possibilities and their po‐ tential, meanwhile overcoming our limitations, boundaries, dualities, fears or even unconscious habits. Change has been my life long partner and, with time, I've come to understand that It’s normal for change not to know what will become, never‐ theless, if one endures it, it will prompt one to stretch out of the com‐ fort zone [caterpillar] and develop a new sense of self [butterﬂy]. I often wonder if the dragonﬂy will remember it’s life as a water naiad or if the but‐ terﬂy recognizes the ﬂower where she cocooned while ﬂying from above. We too go through a meta‐ morphosis in a way, birth and death are still very confusing for us and it’s uncertain what we turn into after this state. For long I wonder why we don’t remember being in our mother’s womb or how we perceived the world around then. Perhaps we were not aware but if we were, wouldn’t we wonder how life would be after that? Or if there was any at all? The same way we now wonder about death and what follows it? And what about dreaming? Quite often we don't remember falling
asleep, don't recall our dreams and simply wake up back to life as nothing had happened. As a lucid dreamer child I often questioned myself why everyone seemed to perceive this to be the only reality possible and the awakened side of life meanwhile be‐ ing unaware of what they did all those sleeping hours. Sometimes it was very confusing for me to understand what side was more real and this perhaps taught me to accept that reality is not only this or that but rather this and that, both the seen and unseen, real and imaginary, whatever we experi‐ ence, it shapes our own and therefore others reality too. We are so used to living on one side of the multiple polarities we're made and surrounded by, that we seem unable to comprehend the unity behind it. If we can understand that death is part of life, just like night forms the day, shadow is cast by light and that opposites existence depends on one another, we can comprehend that unity is actually born of polarity and diversity and that we’re each made of many while part of a bigger organism and that reality is more of a perspective than a solid deﬁnition. We might not know our source but to return is surely to won‐ der.
"REturn to Wonder" is taken from a bigger piece of work called simply "REturn", a photo essay about the meaning and purpose of returning to one's source. It's composed of prose and accompanied by a series of photos showing yet another type of work I do, upcycling plastic waste into customised garments. Photography by Fernando Matoso
Diana de Sousa Matoso is a Born artist, licensed designer & creative at heart. She grew up in Portugal's countryside, studied Arts in High School, graduated in Design from Lisbon's Architecture University and lived in London for nearly 10 years. Her path is intertwined with artistic impulses and keeps crossing different ways of expression, Diana works with both analogue and digital techniques, often creating what she likes to call mixed-media poems, where she plays with words, meanings and visuals.
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wonder ARTIST Mae Bayu I will usually experience period pain on the ﬁrst day, so I often search for ways on the internet that could help relieve my pain, such as various yoga exercises. My painting visualizes my at‐ tempts to become comfortable whenever I get cramps during my period cycle. However, I keep wondering why I couldn't stop going to the toilet and ended up not doing anything. Maybe just sitting on the toilet gives me more comfort than doing inverted leg poses.
Mae Bayu is an artist from Sabah, Malaysia who loves to portray female ﬁgures in their artwork, as well as capturing their own interesting expe‐ riences as a woman in their journey of life.
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the poetic complexities of memory AUTHOR Heba Khan
This mind is a labyrinth of synapses — a forlorn prison of memories and fears, a caged bird placed within a courtyard where musty polaroids have dried on clotheslines. Mental time-travel has marred these faded pictures with regret, made them souvenirs of everything I want to forget; the evaporated fragrance of youth, the derailed trains of thought and all the wars I have fought.
The things I remember with the ﬁnest of details are the things I wish I could have forgotten. Then there are days when I want to re‐ call a song whose melody is ﬂirt‐ ing with my lips but whose words have long since escaped the mazes of my memories. Memory has been examined in many scien‐ tiﬁc domains before, including in research and medicine but there is a poetic underpinning in memory that enhances the scientiﬁc dis‐ course. In medicine, we focus on everything a patient has forgotten because that underlies the patho‐ physiology of their condition. For example, in patients that are expe‐ riencing dementia, we try to track how much they have forgotten as a function of what they remember. I wonder what the last time was though when we celebrated the souvenirs that were potentiated in
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their synapses with such integrity that though the eraser of time wiped everything else out, those memories remained. What fasci‐ nates me the most in this domain is the story of a Muslim man, who at the hands of dementia forgot everything except the conversa‐ tions he would have with His Lord through the daily prayers. It in‐ spires me to present the irony that though this man had forgotten ev‐ erything, he remembered the One who created him which captures the essence of a verse from the Qur’an wherein God says, “Remem‐ ber me and I will remember you” (Qu’ran 2:152). In my opinion, there is no greater feeling than to be remembered because it makes you feel seen. Now, bring that into the context of being remembered by a person who is living with de‐ mentia and the ecstasy is of a dif‐
ferent level. I have experienced this euphoria with my grandmother, who despite her dementia, remem‐ bered that my mother had a daughter that she was fond of. I am of the opinion that people are a quilt of their memories and my grandmother’s quilt was only frag‐ ments of the things she remem‐ bered, complete in itself. However, every attempt to decipher how much she truly remembered only revealed a poem that unfolded un‐ foreseeable wisdom. The wise know that the remnants of memories are hardly ever comprehensive representa‐ tions of those lived moments. Even in people not affected by de‐ mentia, the idea that we recon‐ struct memories every time we recall them intrigues me so deeply. I am drawn to the perseverance of memory and have previously taken pride in all the memories that I have been able to retain because “I have a good memory.” Is it not po‐ etic though that memory is hardly ever an accurate representation of what happened because the episodes of our own memory can be tampered with? I ﬁnd it to be poetic because we are only a metaphor of the things we have been able to reconstruct and therein, I would like to explore the idea of cognitive behaviour theory. In an ethical way, I’d like to see if memories can be accessed and reframed in a more aﬃrming con‐
text whereby we are not victims of the things we remember but proud storytellers of all the things we have survived. In clinical settings, we see people present their per‐ sonality through a narrative iden‐ tity where they have accumulated so much experience that they tell their life like a story to transmit knowledge unto others. I think we should all approach life with a nar‐ rative perspective because that is what our recounts and memories provide us with. This further con‐ tributes to wisdom in some cul‐ tures although my perspective on wisdom is how much you have learned from your life experiences rather than how many experiences you have, but that is an article for another day. My degree in Kinesiology and interest in Psychology have taught me that memories are falli‐ ble. While this makes the world seem immensely vast and our‐
selves seem so small, it provides me with relief that despite every‐ thing, we all experience life in a similar way. When it comes to memory-enhancing strategies, we know that exercise, proper diet and good sleep has been very promis‐ ing in maintaining memory health through their own individual mech‐ anisms. My greatest interest lies in the interface between sleep and memory because I have seen great ﬂuctuations in them through my own experience and wonder if they are generalized across the board. I have been learning to identify that while having the ultimate memory would be so beneﬁcial, we some‐ times forget to celebrate that for‐ getting is also healing. Grief subsides as time places a bridge between the trigger and the mem‐ ory and while I do not believe that time is medicine nor an antidote, I do think it has the ability to func‐ tion as a portal. We can choose to
mentally time travel to the corpses of our past failures or to the phan‐ toms of the future fears and while this time travel is a blessing, so too is remaining in this moment and encoding it to the greatest de‐ gree to recall later. I have learned to turn to poetry when I really want to capture a moment because documenting a feeling is the only tangible memory we have besides photographs. Writing allows me to hold on to what I do not want to forget. When I wonder whether I will be remembered, I like to think that my poetry and my writing will be my souvenirs and it will be the poetic complexities of how I view memory that intrigues people about me. Heba Khan is a kinesiology student at McMas‐ ter University with a minor in French and psy‐ chology. Heba invests a lot of her free time into poetry, writing, photography, and creating art to hold on to and explore her creativity. Her thoughts and interests have become very vast and intersectional as a result of her studies. Graphic by Karthyayani Ramesh.
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city of celebration and dreams ARTIST Victoria Valuk
"City of celebration and dreams", 40x40 cm, oil on can‐ vas, original painting by the artist Victoria Valuk. People want a miracle or a dream to come true very often, especially in their diﬃcult situations. In this artwork, the artist Victoria Valuk depicted the city as a place where there is a celebra‐ tion and dreams come true. This oil painting brings light and wonderful mood. After all, we know that a person does better and lives more successfully in a great mood. Wounds heal faster when a person is in a good mood. Beautiful paintings are like beautiful kind people. They can positively inﬂuence a person's mood, and thus give
Victoria Valuk is an artist from Europe. She lives and works in Belarus, in Minsk. Victoria Valuk is a very open-minded and hardworking artist. She is engaged in painting a lot and with great diligence, and she experiments and works mainly with oil. Victoria has had solo art exhibi‐ tions in different countries and also participated in many international group exhibitions around the world. Her art is very nice and professional. https://artvaluk.wordpress.com/collections/
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him strength and improve his emotional and physical state. You can own this artwork too. Victoria Valuk is an artist from Europe. She lives and works in Belarus, in Minsk. Victoria Valuk is a very open-minded and hard‐ working artist. She is engaged in painting a lot and with great diligence, and she experiments and works mainly with oil. Vic‐ toria has had solo art exhibi‐ tions in different countries and also participated in many inter‐ national group exhibitions around the world. Her art is very nice and professional. https:// artvaluk.wordpress.com/collec‐ tions/
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ISSN 2563-7274 (Print) ISSN 2563-7282 (Online) published Spring 2021 themusemcmaster.ca