Blog / 2023 / A Painting for Everyone Who’s Ever Had Trouble Following Through

May 4, 2023

[video transcript]

For more about the cat painting and the series about mental health that it’s a part of, check out this online gallery or go see the show in person in Hawthorne, New Jersey!

Passaic County Arts Center
675 Goffle Road
Hawthorne, NJ 07506

Open: now through July 16th
Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays, 11a to 5p
Reception: May 13th from 4p to 6p

The original cat piece is for sale for $2000 plus shipping (and tax if you live in New Jersey), and there are prints and pretty things here in my print shop.

If you want to learn more about endometriosis, check out Tracey Lindeman’s new book Bleed: Destroying Myths and Misogyny in Endometriosis Care. I loved the whole thing, but, it was in the later portion of the text where Lindeman talks about mourning other versions of herself that I felt truly seen.

cats marching band that obviously doesn’t work, surrealist art by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Oh No! Thoughts Won’t Go.
acrylic on panel
12 x 24 inches

Do you ever have trouble following through? Is there some part of you that wants to do a thing—anything from going to a party to starting a new business—but you just can’t get all the other parts of you to get with the program? Do you ever feel like a cat marching band, where only the one kitty actually wants to make music?

This painting is about that special kind of frustration. The way we can want a thing, but also not want it at the same time. The way we too often sabotage ourselves without understanding why.

My inability to follow through has probably always been been there, but I can pinpoint the moment when the cats in my brain officially rebelled—the moment from whence they never stopped rebelling. It was after my first surgery to excise my endometriosis, when my doctor informed me that I’d have to start ingesting synthetic hormones or I’d end up back on the operating table in short order.

This was the moment the marching band music in my mind ended, because synthetic hormones murder all my rainbows.

And that’s what I told my doctor. Keep in mind: I didn’t know about the cats then, so I didn’t mention them to him either. Which is to say that I wasn’t mixing metaphors with him, just explaining about the pills and my rainbows. I was trying to convey to him precisely how horrible things get for me emotionally when I use hormonal contraception.

As you might’ve guessed, he was not impressed. But the fact is that I’m not alone in having bad mental health reactions to the pill, the patch, the ring, and hormonal IUDs. Yes, these contraceptives changed the world: they freed people with two X chromosomes—AKA people who usually have ovaries—to do so many amazing things, while also making babies only if and when they want to. But hormonal contraceptives are also garbage on our brain functions, a problem that’s been too little studied and that almost no gynecologist takes seriously.

Sometimes I wonder who I’d be if I hadn’t had to spend the last fourteen years tricking my body into thinking it’s pregnant with fake hormones. What would it be like if the medical establishment took endometriosis seriously and actually tried to cure a disease that ruins the lives of one in ten people with two X chromosomes? Who would I be if the cat marching band in my mind never rebelled?

This painting is about the frustration of wanting to do a thing and somehow not being able to get yourself together enough to do it, but, for me, it’s also about all the ways that doctors and their creepy pharma friends mess us up.

I’d really like a do-over for all of us. I’d like a world where big pharma never got that big, where there’s a whole lot more oversight in drug testing, and where pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from marketing medications directly to doctors with expensive gifts and vacations. I’d like a world where our brain cats only rebel for good reason and not because some understudied drug is messing with them.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

cats in a marching band, not paying attention
detail of Oh No! Thoughts Won’t Go.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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