Monday, July 16, 2012

Identity Theft

"Identity Theft" by Crystal Neubauer  36" x 24" Encaustic and Mixed Media on Panel


A spin off from my "Clean Slate" series, titled "Identity Theft", explores the errant messages we women receive which diminish our sense of true identity and self-worth. The right side, done in encaustic and ink, depicts a woman whose bare body is exposed for all to see, but her face is obscured as an illustration of the emphasis society places on the shape of a woman's body over that of her mind, heart, or accomplishments.

The left side is created to resemble a worn chalk board. The viewer can write words that have obscured her own identity and sense of worth and then erase them in a cathartic-like exercise.

I have written and erased many words. There are the obvious derogatory words designed to silence, degrade, or reduce to one-dimension: "Bitch", "Slut", "MILF". But even words as seemingly innocuous as "she's such a nice girl" can be hurtful when the heart of the message means she doesn't challenge the system or upset the status-quo. "Leave the tough stuff to the men-folk little woman", "Just don't you worry your pretty little head about it", "Nice christian girls don't. . ." Nice christian girls don't write words like bitch and slut in their blog posts! What will people think? and after all, who does she think she is anyway?

I've written words many of us can identify with as women- we are either too thin or too fat, we are too loud or too quiet, we can somehow simultaneously feel as if we are too much and not enough. Yet when we set off to discover our authentic selves and find what we were truly designed and called to be, we may face opposition in the most surprising places. Sometimes it comes from those who fear that the change in us will force them to face their own shortcomings, but often the opposition comes from within. Change is hard work and usually results in things looking worse long before anything gets better. 

 The current state of my studio - July 2012- a story for another day

I've been on this path to self-recovery and self-discovery for a few years now. I've written some, and shied away from sharing other parts of the journey. I confessed at the end of May how my desire to seek a higher level of professionalism in my work as an artist made me leery of writing as authentically and openly as I once had. And somewhere along the way to finding my voice in my daily life I lost my voice online. 

In my real life I had to make tough choices, say hard things to people I cared about, and draw a few lines in the sand. Life got really messy. I stopped sharing these things because I didn't know how it would end. I thought in order to share my testimony the story had to be complete, neatly wrapped up with a bow and a happily ever after. That nice christian girl syndrome again, how could I point you to the glory of God if my testimony didn't end the way a nice christian girls should?
 
Now to set the record straight, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a "nice christian girl".

But I wanted to be. I tried to be. I thought I was supposed to be. I did things like cut my hair short and bought cute sweater sets and even wore a string of faux pearls a time or two. 

I knew there were changes that needed to take place, but I didn't understand what they were. I saw other people with lives that were more functional then mine and I thought if I emulated their behavior on the outside I would achieve what I was looking for on the inside. But that's not what God had in mind for me. 

What he had in mind for me was a complete shaking and tearing down of the old unstable foundation. Everything that was not right or true had to be torn away. What He had in mind for me was complete liberation from the lies that kept me bound to the past. The ones that whispered "Who do you think you are?" every time I tried to break free. The ones that made me frantic about finding my worth in the eyes and arms of others. The ones designed to steal my identity

What God had in mind for me was a radical life changing encounter with Jesus. 

And lest you be mistaken, this Jesus is no one-hit wonder. An encounter of that magnitude isn't here today and gone tomorrow. It is a life-long-earth-shattering-mess-making-years-long-walking-through-the-desert journey. My testimony isn't stagnant. It is a flowing-never-ending story. It is shocking and tantalizing and filled with the realness of a crazy-mixed-up-broken-and-put-back-together life. And it isn't just for my benefit that He started this tearing away and rebuilding process. I've been doing Him a disservice by hiding it, so I've confessed that to Him and now I'm confessing it to you, and I am recommitting to talking about it here for anyone to see. A light on a hill of sorts. Raw and real and vulnerable. 

Just like He created me. Just like He created you.




12 comments:

  1. Thank you, Crystal for revealing the scope and raw beauty of your struggle online. I, too, struggle with shedding the "nice Christian woman" facade. I've always been told, "you're so sweet!" And, it grates on me...I guess it sounds dis-empowering. Keep writing here for us to share in. Your voice is strong and I like that your journey is messy - like mine - and infused, like wax under a torch, with His relentless love. - Jody

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  2. I very much identify with your words. My blog, too, become guarded. I didn't want to offend or drive anyone away. In doing so, I felt a pale shroud of blah descend on my blog. 2012 began with some pivotal and eye-opening changes in our family's "church going" choices and habits. We found ourselves shaking free of complacency and re-engaging that passionate love affair with our creator. In doing so, I've also decided to be myself, my real self, on my blog. It isn't about numbers or followers or not being offensive anymore. It's about living.
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but I truly "get" your art. It speaks so fully to me. Thank you for baring your soul in what you create.

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  3. holy crap, woman, you are on fire! oh, i said the word "crap"! hah. man, oh, man, when you get real, you get REAL. i love this post and if this is any indication of where your writing and artwork are going, i can't wait to see and read more!!! you are such a brave soul and your realness creates a wide net of safety for me to be myself with you. so thank you, thank you for your gift of realness in my life that invitea me to lay down my ridiculous posturing and shinyness burdens in order to have something true instead. you are onto something so powerful here crystal...your words and your work are inspired. don't be afraid of it! more! more! more! xoxo

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  4. holy crap, woman, you are on fire! oh, i said the word "crap"! hah. man, oh, man, when you get real, you get REAL. i love this post and if this is any indication of where your writing and artwork are going, i can't wait to see and read more!!! you are such a brave soul and your realness creates a wide net of safety for me to be myself with you. so thank you, thank you for your gift of realness in my life that invitea me to lay down my ridiculous posturing and shinyness burdens in order to have something true instead. you are onto something so powerful here crystal...your words and your work are inspired. don't be afraid of it! more! more! more! xoxo

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  5. Yes, yes, and yes. I get it. I'm there, too... desiring to be authentic and open and showing an appealing faith without diluting my witness. It's difficult for those of us who were raised to be hyper-aware, as my father repeated, "Be careful of what others think about you", as if that was possible. I can't control the mind of another but I can control my integrity. In my seventh decade I'm still working on it. It's good to know that there are others like you and like me, artists who are practicing Christians at the core.

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  6. WOW! WOW! WOW! Crystal, what a great post. Way to take life on and live it with integrity. You go girl!! This is so powerful and empowering. I am inspired. I am challenged. I am encouraged. Thank you for being so REAL. Keep it coming. Love you.

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  7. April Hisatake1:14 PM

    Crystal... I'm in awe of this art work. and just when I think it can't get any better, I read your words and it gets even more beautiful. When your realness pours into your art, something about it makes me want to be a better person myself. It's just so powerful. Thank you for having the courage to be "raw, and real and vulnerable."

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  8. Guarded; that's the word! I feel guarded~and protective. Perhaps it's because I have a 'secret' I must keep for the time being, and this makes it hard to share anything authentically, I'm not sure. But nonetheless, guarded is the word for the day; and sets me to thinking about my own blogging and the voice I want to carry. Always so concerned with appearing 'consistent' and 'authentic' (so overused....) yet am neither consistent or authentic in my 'real life' that is cohesive with what the world expects of these defining words...ilu xstal :)

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  9. Thank you for this transparency, Crystal! I've been thrilled for you with the new levels you have reached and are going with your artwork... but, I have missed your "voice." So pleased to hear that you intend to begin speaking from your heart through your blog once again. Isn't that often the essence of this "walk" anyway -- to just keep beginning again?
    ~ Helen

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  10. I have been following you for a bit now because I was intriqued by your art. I think I like this piece better than anything I have seen you do recently. (I can't speak for the past) I think the fact that it is an interactive piece.....with a lot of us (whether it was meant to be or not)....is the reason it is so compelling. Many of us are on similar paths. Love this post, love this art, love the openness.

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  11. I share your struggle. Thank you for your openness and encouragement. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

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  12. Yes. I love everything about this post, and your artwork. Real and raw and TRUE. I feel the same way about my testimony as you do about yours -- that it's not stagnant, but flowing and shocking and put-back-together. Love that, that God does that, and WANTS to. Amazing.

    I wandered over here from the FB group for Jan's Shine Bright e-course after reading your intro. So excited to get to know you better!

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