Lotus paintings @Golden Belt Campus / by Kristin Gibson

On view through June 16 at her studio’s Golden Belt Artists Gallery, Kristin Gibson presents a collection of very personal paintings called “Spring Forth”.

'‘The Lotus Flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest places of mud. At night the Lotus Flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.'‘

Like the Lotus, these paintings emerged during a season that has felt like deepest and darkest places of mud and heartache, not recognizing my brushes again. Truly at times we are all just going day by day, trying not to sink and stay afloat, and begin each day anew like the lotus.

Again caring for and seeing a loved one in a new health crisis left no drop of energy or desire to paint. I leaned into my daughter’s bravery and resolve and picked up my brushes as preservation and self-care. Painting the lotus bloom, the hopeful recovery symbol of eating disorders just started to happen. Duke Gardens has been my respite and saving grace since day one over 5 years ago, and referencing my weekly walks there, between photos and memories, the pieces came to be. It’s telling that the first are a bit somber with not my usual zest, yet I began to more and more enjoy the form and color, and the metaphor, and the compositions started to flow and rise and open up, like therapy. The paintings speak to caregiving, recovery and hope, and survivors emerging like the Lotus, from darkness into light, bringing forth joy. I hope they bring joy and hope to others. Thank you for this space to share a bit of advocacy:

An eating disorder and anorexia in particular is widely misunderstood and misrepresented. First hand as a caregiver, I know and abhor it is an insidious unrelenting illness one can’t possibly fathom unless in the throes of it. Imagine feeling like your loved one and whole family has been suddenly left dangling and terrified, upside down on a roller coaster. This is the depths of anorexia, ED or “Egor“ as our Duke physician team calls it. They also call it a marathon, not a sprint, I concede triathlon.

Imagine visiting a hospital where patients age 9 and up are in acute medical crisis and courageously receiving care, as for any other serious disease. This was our next jolt of exposure, and all it would take to empathize and wish to fully erase the stigma and skewed perception that surrounds ED sufferers. Love, understanding and education alongside specialist care stabilizes the roller coaster.

Eating disorders are complex genetic, biological and psychological diseases that have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. They are not fads, phases, or lifestyle choices. They affect every fiber, organ and system of the body, and afflict people of every age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, size and socioeconomic group. They affect a whole family. These diseases can have life-threatening medical complications if not recognized and treated appropriately. The earlier a person receives multidisciplinary medical stability and care, the greater likelihood of full recovery. If you or someone you love suffers with an eating disorder and comorbid conditions, you are not alone. Compassionate, expert medical and psychological care and support is key for you and your family. –NEDA

Reach out to: NEDA National Eating Disorders Association • Duke Center for Eating Disorders • UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders • Veritas Collaborative • Carolina House • Healthy Diets • F.E.A.S.T. • Eating Recovery Center

I also welcome you to reach out to me, as a mom, navigating a nonlinear twisting rollercoaster of a road best I can. Kristin