Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial, 2016.
The Rabbit Hole: Jewelry
State of Affairs. Neckpiece. Built in 2014, this piece basically sums up how I felt after 5 or 6 eye surgeries, beginning with the retina and ending, at that point, with a partial cornea transplant (DSEK).
Cataract. Brooch. Cataract surgeries are fairly routine at this point. The lens usually grows cloudy with age but surgeries for other eye problems, in my case retinas, can prematurely age the lens. Three trocars or entry ports are used during the procedures through which other devices are introduced such as surgical tools, lights and pressure regulators.
Constrictor. Brooch. Glaucoma is a disease where high intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve. The balance of pressure is a dynamic process: as fluid is produced existing fluid must be drained, most often through the pupil and iris via a network of mesh and channels called angles. I had always thought of glaucoma as an inherited condition (if I thought of it at all) but trauma or surgery can scar and plug the angles resulting in dangerous pressure.
Feel the Burn. Brooch. After the detached retina has been repositioned, an argon laser is used to photocoagulate the tissue. This "welding" creates scarring that seals the retina to the underlying tissue. I asked my retinal surgeon to draw me a map of my healed retina. I built Feel the Burn to be a facsimile of that map. X's represent laser scars, the diamond my macula and the horseshoe of weld marks is the "horseshoe tear" that began this journey: a common type of rip that can lead to detachment. The overall shape is the retina that I have remaining in that eye. It should be a circle.
Chang & Eng. Brooch. I made this piece at the very beginning of this adventure. When I learned that when one eye experiences a detachment, the other can follow suit. As we age the gel that fills the eye (vitreous humor) begins to slump and peel away from the retina.This is normal and usually causes some flashes and maybe some floaters. If the humor is firmly attached, to the retina those flashes can lead to bursts of dark floaters (as in the video of Rabbit Hole): bits of detritus liberated from a rip in the retina. My "bad" eye became my good one soon after I made Chang & Eng.
In & Out. Intraocular fluid can get behind the retina (entering trough a rip or tear). If enough gets in it can overwhelm the pigment cells which act as pumps and keep the retina in place. The result is a detachment.
Couer. Brooch. I've included this piece because it presaged the beginning of my rabbit hole adventure by several months. When I consider it now it gives me a chill....
Cockeye. Brooch. What can I say? Another state of the union piece.....