Forward by Jennifer Hall
The decision to produce a show for artists with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (T.L.E.) came
from a personal desire to meet people who are working under similar conditions as myself.
As an artist living with these types of seizures (which are not only difficult to diagnose,
but sometimes impossible to recognize), it was an opportunity to better understand myself,
perhaps through a collective voice. It is my hope that this catalogue will be of use to
other artists with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, their families, and caretakers. For readers
who are interested in learning more about the relationship of creativity and T.L.E., this
catalogue can be used as a guide into the richness of a randomly mapped terrain.
It took over a year to find the contributors for this show, and as a subjective curator,
it was a truly unique process. As I met each artist through their submissions, I also got
to know them as individuals with a ferocious tenacity to share their story. This is
remarkable to me: beyond problems of negotiating the basics of life and the cultural stigma of
having any form of epilepsy, I found an abundance of creative people eager to share of
themselves in such an intimate and vulnerable way.
We cannot, nor should we, separate the relationship between the activity of art making
and cognitive perception. The temporal lobe phenomenon, the process of diagnosis, and the
lifestyle (including the choice of treatment), are all issues that surround the creative
sphere. As part of the creative practice, each artist is living this relationship, and
provides us in this catalogue with an array of insights.
Certainly, the type of electrochemical misfiring found within the T.L.E. experience is not
new to the mammalian brain. A definitive T.L.E.
diagnostic exists now, only because we can observe it by electronic monitors. It is ironic
that without these electronic diagnostics, T.L.E. would most probably continue to be
objectified by how a person in seizure looked rather than the electrical occurrence
itself. This is a serious problem, and the potential for misunderstanding is well documented. T.L.E. continues to be a condition also loosely linked to behavioral
disorder, and I can't help but wonder: how do other cultures lacking diagnostic tools
such as the Electronic Encephalographic or Magnetic Resonance Imager absorb and define
people with T.L.E.? Perhaps they are the insane, the ones shunned for amplifying an
inner self that is collectively unfamiliar. For many, I imagine their identity remains
culturally scribed, motivated by the dreams and fears of other people's perspicacity.
It is my personal belief that the artists of this catalogue have the ability to resonate
on a continuum found deep within the mind's eye because T.L.E. forces the issues of
perception and self. Some of the artists are working to strike a harmonious balance with
the seizure activity. Some are at war with it. As a collection, the following is a
powerful testament to the human condition and, perhaps, a spiritual realm that comes from