This is a short multimedia narrative I created using artifacts from my mother's life. After a period of preparation and incubation, I approached the artifacts as data and the juxtaposition of images as a tool for qualitative inquiry. The narrative presents some of the themes that emerged as I searched for clues about how she approached living with the ideations and behavior that were labeled as mental illness. Cecelia was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and died from suicide in 2005.
The research method I am using, organic inquiry, approaches the process of research as if it were sacred. This is the intention I held as I sat with her photos, journals, letters, and other items related to her life. This process was humbling, difficult, and very valuable to me. As this project grows, my hope is that it is of value to others.
It is a very, very small snapshot, and assembled from my own view, which is - of course - limited by my own ideas, prejudices, values, and assumptions. It is impossible for me to gain her explicit permission to use her artifacts in this way, but I deeply sense it is in resonance with her position as an activist and her public identification as a person living with mental illness.
The data I worked with included:
Original art (photographs, collages, drawings)
Meaningful myths and stories
Books she read, with emphasis on her added notes and highlights
Photographs of her apartment and other special locations
Letters and emails she wrote to me
Non-original art and images she sent to me (cartoons, postcards, care packages)
Artifacts from her life (rosaries, jewelry, clothing, tarot cards)
Saved voice messages
Archived web pages that mention her
Published essays and other original writing
News articles and interviews
Music that was meaningful to her
Word collages composed using text she wrote
While not all are represented in the final product, each informed my formation of the visual narrative in some way.
The next step in the research process is to consider the narrative critically and to write a cogent analysis of it.
Music Credits: "Choral Valley" by Inner Splendor Sleep Music and Relaxation Project, available on iTunes
"untitled original composition", Juko Holiday
"You Can't Always Get What You Want", cover by Ituana on "Bossa N Stones", available on iTunes
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