Mum's Drawings as Graphic Medicine

These are my mother’s life experiences in drawing. Some are stories of terrible things but illustrated and collaged in playful cartoon-like innocence with humour and lightness that is quintessentially my mother. Major themes in her drawings include abuse, trauma, and pain. One recurring motif is the representation of poison. She sees jealousy, greed, abuse, and hate as forms of toxicity that have caused her suffering. Throughout her work, they're symbolized by mosquitos, excrement, and pests. Another theme is nostalgia, the longing for a simpler past of her youth in Mao’s China. Some images serve to strengthen her Chinese identity and attachment to ‘Chinese culture’. To me, they reflect her estranged and somewhat surreal relationship to this mythical place that she calls her motherland. Propaganda and fiction are also dominant themes that occur frequently in the construction of her narrative identity. As challenging as it has been for me to receive some of my mother’s drawings, they have inadvertently bridged our language barrier. These images have offered pathways into our hearts in moment when written or verbal language ceased to connect and express. In this poignant way, her images have become our new mode of communication, translating and mending the gaps of language, culture, and subjectivity. And in this sense, my mum’s drawings have been medicinal.