Sketch on post-it: John Kenn Mortensen
Some might say I have a dark and twisted soul because I gravitate toward art that speaks to the inner demons residing in us all. And the truth is, I love my inner demons. I love looking down the throat and into the belly of the beast, into the black eyes staring through me, underestimating me, not knowing I’ve brought more than enough to the table, because I’ve fought this war before.
A lot happened emotionally and mentally, and I’m doing my best to channel my energy into passion projects, my yoga practice, everyday interactions with people I call friends, my relationship with my boyfriend.
And inevitably, I come up short or grow lethargic in my quest to remain balanced. It is through this unbalancing act I find my “ugly” dark side seeping out of my pores. I turn into an impatient, combative, defensive personality because in one world, I have real people to answer to. In the other world, it is only me–the Queen of my realm–and if this world is infringed upon, I am not a nice person. These are MY demons.
John Kenn Mastersen draws weird shit that is utterly symbolic of the weight we carry, the fears we stow away, the paranoia, the things that go BUMP in the night…which is why I am drawn to his works.
At first, you might say, “This is strange.” And that’s a fair assessment. But take another look and suddenly, your whole body is flooded with emotions you may suppress underneath the blazer your wear to work everyday. Maybe your conscious is enlightened by your subconscious mind and encouraging you to keep staring into the monster in front of you to understand its significance in your present life.
I get frustrated with the whole “Live your best life” because for a lot of us, living our best life means getting out of bed and putting on pants. It’s showing up to our place of employment and only crying once at our desk. It’s doing the dishes. This is how some of us face our demons–by engaging in what others might deem as ordinary activities.
The truth is, small victories are not small for some. The truth is, there’s a little-known group of us who need to sit with our demons, converse with them, touch them to make sure they are, in fact, real and can be conquered. We need those moments (or days) with our inner struggles in order to come full circle and appreciate happiness.
And though it is a vicious circle, the tango we dance with our minds, I have come to respect the untamed within, the one showing teeth heeding a warning to family and friends that poking the bear is an obvious mistake. To truly appreciate happiness means understanding that crap days are unavoidable. Waking up with a little cloud hanging over you is OK.
So I leave with this monster, any monster currently restricting you from moving forward. What is the takeaway this monster is trying to convey by its ominous stature and sharp fangs? And are you listening? I mean really listening.
Monsters rarely rear their ugly heads for nothing. To confront them means to have courage and reach out to them. Touch them. Gently caress their faces and say, “You’re not so terrible after all.”
Like my good friend Max in Where The Wild Things Are cries, “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!” A gift we can only give ourselves by relinquishing our stoic “everything is fine” face to a more open, more vulnerable you.
If it it means breaking down, shutting down, retreating to the corners of your room to write/paint/yoga/whatever, do it. And invite a friend. Preferably a monster so that the two of you can have a conversation about where you’re both coming from and how to meet in the middle.