Title: Violent Passages
Author: Louise Woodard
Foundation: National Headache Foundation
“Violent Passages” is a time-lapse painting of the artist’s migraine sequence as she sees it. Her work focuses on the pain surrounding her eye and the confusion she feels, especially with numbers, as a result of the migraine.”
(Cited from “Migraine Masterpiece” exhibit, List of works, National Headache Foundation 1989)
“For migraine sufferers, the artworks [of the first Migraine Masterpieces art contest in 1989] are rich in symbols that have painful associations. ‘After seeing all of them and being with them all day, I felt very depressed,’ says Louise Woodard, whose ‘Violent Passages’ won the $ 4,000 first prize.
Woodard, a former art teacher in Mattydale, N.Y., who was forced by her migraines to retire (‘When you start vomiting in front of a classroom, there is no way you can teach’), had headaches every other day during the course of painting ‘Violent Passages’ and used them to deliberately inventory her symptoms and her perception of pain.
Ironically, the method proved almost too successful: She is repulsed by her representation; yet when she looks at it, she sees herself. ‘Usually, I critique my work for a week or so,’ Woodard says. ‘This one, I couldn’t wait to get rid of. The picture is horrifying to me. I had a photo taken of it because I knew I would have to give up the picture. But I’ve never been able to frame the photo and hang it because I just look at it, and that’s all I want to see of it. I put it back in the file.”