Triage and Healing

An image of two small erasers carved for relief printing. One eraser shows the hamsa, a symbol with an eye in a hand. The other eraser shows three circles touching.

I’m preparing for hybrid classes now and part of that involves making short demo videos for students. Here’s one on how to make what I call an “art school bandaid,” an improvised bandage for small cuts. It’s a helpful thing to know how to make.

As I understand it, an important part of emergency medical care, is to stabilize the patient. In the case of a small cut from an X-acto knife, the first thing we have to do is stop the bleeding. We have to stop whatever we were doing, wash the wound, and sit for several minutes letting our blood clot across the opening.

I think about this today in terms of the trauma and injustices experienced by my black, brown, and indigenous colleagues and students. We know we are cut. How do we stop the bleeding? How can we stabilize the patient? What does it look like when we stop what we are doing and to tend to our injuries? How can my college, a predominantly white institution (PWI) steeped in centuries of white supremacy and patriarchy, contribute meaningfully to the healing of our brothers and sisters if we have not yet addressed the causes of that trauma and our own complicity in it? I’m reminded of the warning title of Audre Lorde’s essay: The The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. Can we participate in healing if we do not first remove ourselves from harm? Perhaps removing ourselves from harm a luxury of peace time We need to triage in the field.

As I prepare for classes, I’m working to identify the ways in which what I teach and how I teach it are rooted in and perpetuate white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. For example, the Euro-centric tradition of printmaking. I’m also considering these things as I prepare for the unknown of this upcoming semester and for the likelihood that our children’s daycare will close again and we’ll be trying to be full-time workers and full-time parents. In my mind those things are separate: the historic traditions of what I learned and teach and the daily logistics of working and parenting. But I should know by now it’s all connected.

Author: Katie

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