* 3rd Place: Charles Platt – Chronic

Artist: Charles Platt

Title: Chronic

Grade: 11th Grade

School: Miramonte

Teacher: Stacey Churchill

I made this piece using primarily Adobe Illustrator to digitize and enhance a drawing I made but also employed Photoshop for some of the lighting and color. This piece was made for my class’s Surrealism unit. 

I made this piece to portray my struggle with Crohn’s disease, especially through the Covid-19 pandemic. Crohn’s disease is an auto-immune disease, primarily targeting the intestines, but also causing issues elsewhere in the body. Basically, my immune system attacks my body and causes a myriad of health issues, ranging from constant tiredness and abdominal cramps to mouth ulcers and joint pain. The disease is also tied very closely to my mental state, with flares often occurring when I’m feeling intense stress or anxiety. These flares can lead to further stress, which leads to more symptoms, which can start an extremely intense, negative spiral to start. These spirals have become much easier to fall into during the pandemic.

Visually, I wanted the eye in the center to represent me, ensnared by the ever-present mental and physical constriction coming from my intestines. The pains in the stomach and knees visualized by teeth biting into me. I chose to circle the piece with cards to represent the random chance involved with the disease. While it is not incredibly rare, affecting an estimated 5 million people, there are no known causes. Certain factors are known to increase its likelihood, like your parents having Crohn’s, doctors simply don’t know any concrete causes. Having to feel so bad so many days just because of how the cards fell can feel infuriating and disempowering.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my piece, I truly appreciate having a place where I can share and learn from other artists.