Kim Noble, Activist Artist

I promised I would try and do a series on activist artists, and here I am keeping that promise. The first artist I profiled was Lynn Schirmer (https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/lynn-schirmer-activist-artist/) Now I am gong to introduce you to Kim Noble.

Kim is an fifty-three year old English woman who spent her teens and young adult life in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Like many, she collected a variety of diagnoses until her DID was recognized in 1995.

She has, and always has had, strong amnestic barriers between her personalities. There is no co-consciousness, no internal communication, and only a few personalities reluctantly concede they share the body with others. She has two ways of finding out about her other personalities: what her therapist tells her, and what her artworks shows her. She can’t imagine it otherwise; co-consciousness, to her, would be a total invasion of privacy, as if somebody was constantly spying on her. And having to listen to alters talking inside! No thanks.

The person called Kim Noble in the art world is really Patricia, the third alter to manage daily life. (People who have known her a long time call her Patricia, but she introduces herself now as Kim.) Patricia is extremely  capable; she fought social services to be allowed to raise her daughter — and won. *1 She came though a horrible attack when acid was thrown in her face and her attacker tried to set her on fire while she was asleep in bed. Indomitable is the word that comes to my mind.

In the course of her therapy, she worked for a few months in 2004 with an support worker who was studying art therapy. The creative floodgates opened, and first one, then another personality took to painting like ducks to water. Each personality has a different style, ranging from abstract art to realism. Some depict the abuse they suffered as children, others do not paint of the abuse; and their paintings therefore show a wide range of content.

Kim told me: “The main reason for going public was our art. I was told ‘come back when your art has settled’ as galleries did not understand the different styles. After they accepted that the reason was being DID and our work was getting a lot of interest, I realised this was a great way for people to have an understanding of DID and help other people not so lucky to get help and support as we have.”

And go public she did. As of today, she has shown in over 30 galleries in England, the United States, Spain, and the Netherlands and has participated in 35 group exhibitions with other artists. And she is in a gallery in Second Life! Think of the number of people who have learned about DID from just one show, then multiply it by 65.

Several of her personalities allow themselves to be interviewed. Patricia even had the courage to appear on Oprah!!!!!  *2 And think of the number of people who saw her there!!!!!!

Let me show you a few of these paintings. All are acrylic on canvas. I feel bad because I have selected only five artists and neglected the other nine. You can see works by the others at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimnoble/sets/

1 desert

Here is “Green Desert” by Patricia, who now is responsible for everyday life — raising her daughter, paying the bills, going to therapy. She uses serene colors and is grounded in nature. I find her work exquisite and could easily live happily with any of her paintings on my wall.

2 world

“In his own World”

3 man

“Coming or Going Man”

These two paintings are by Abi, and are the most representational. To my eyes, the placement of the figures and the spaciousness evoke loneliness but also a sense of depth and meaning beyond the literal. I love the synergy between the color palette and the emotional content.

4 help

“Help Please”

5 training

“Training in Progress”

These two are by Ria Pratt, and are scenes of the abuse she endured. She often uses backwards writing and shows sketchy figures floating above the children being tortured, reminding me of out of body experiences. Her colors are vivid and the compositions striking.

6 game

“Game of Life”

Judy, who is fifteen, painted “Game of Life.” It is clearly about abuse, but is less literal, more symbolic, than Ria Pratt’s work.

7 box

This box is by Key. You can’t see all the words and symbols, but you may recognize the Kabala in the center. Key’s work haunts me because I resonate with what is being said, or perhaps not said.

Kim has written her autobiography, “All of Me.” There is a preview of it on Google Books and also on Amazon. She’s just finished  a foreword for a book for survivors, “Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control,” which will be published next year and is by the Canadian psychologist/author Alison Miller. Kim is looking forward to writing a more detailed book in the near future.

But art is still and always her first love. In March of 2014 there will be an exhibition at the Tavistock Clinic in London. This is a big step toward exhibiting in main-stream venues and moving away from having her work classified as Outsider Art. She hopes, in the near future, to be able to support herself and her daughter through the sale of her paintings.

Now, I want to make something abundantly clear. Nobody expects you (or me) to achieve half of what Kim has. Remember that we each have our own abilities and talents and that we use them as best we can to fight against ritual abuse. There is no point in comparing yourself to others: it only leads to putting yourself down and narrowing your options. Telling just one person is activism, working hard on yourself is activism, fighting to get free or stay free is the absolutely most powerful of all forms of activism. Do what you can, and rejoice in your accomplishments, for every day you disobey what you were taught in the cult is a triumph.

*1 “It is a testament to Kim’s strength that she is a mother at all as Aimee was taken away by social services at birth to be put up for adoption. Kim took her fight all the way to the High Court and was assessed by two independent psychiatrists in the process — they both confirmed she was no danger to her child.” from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/kim-noble-a-woman-divided-413223.html
*2 http://www.kimnoble.com/kim_noble%20on%20oprah%202.htm

Lynn Schirmer, Activist Artist

The fall equinox is on September 22 this year. There is an article on the equinox at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/

Warning: the images in this essay are very graphic. They are used with permission, but Lynn asks that you not copy or reproduce them without contacting her at art@lynnschirmer.com.

Coming of age in the ’60’s, my initial idea of activism consisted of sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, and handing bouquets of roses to bemused policemen. It has broadened considerably since then.

Now it has expanded to include art, fiction, and poetry. I find that art is exceptionally well adapted to activism. It speaks to us through the eyes, the mind, and the heart simultaneously. And, unlike roses, most art is lasting and can reach out to future generations.

From time to time I’d like to introduce you to some amazing artists who are survivors of ritual abuse; some are survivors of military/government mind control as well. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to draw or paint or sculpt our experiences and a thousand times more courage to show our work publicly. If we make this choice, we expose ourselves to skepticism, ridicule, and rejection of our very souls, not just the particular piece of work we have offered as a gift to all who may see it.

Today I’m going to talk about Lynn Schirmer, who draws and paints her abuse and its effects, exhibits her work, and opens her studio to the general public. She also curates shows of others’ works, encouraging dozens of other artists to speak out in their own voices.

Lynn is completely open about her background. “I was born into a family active in organized group ritualistic and sadistic pedophilia. Along with profiting from child pornography and prostitution, the group was also networked to people involved with government medical and behavioral experimentation programs. . . . From earliest memory I was subjected to unspeakable acts of torture. It occurred within private settings, such as family/group gatherings, and at research facilities during experimentation sessions.” (http://lynnsart.net/index.php/about/)

She gets even more explicit in the pages from her journal at http://lynnsart.net/index.php/about/go-ahead-and-tell-me/. Here you will find methods of torture, details of her system, even names of perpetrators. Images of a journal drawing and a painting were presented by Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson to the 2004 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women panel.

Madonna of The Electro-Shock Belt - Oil, 2008
Madonna of The Electro-Shock Belt – Oil, 2008

The over-riding theme in Lynn’s artwork is dissociation. Body parts are disconnected and reassembled, multiple figures are merged into one. Colors swirl, uniting and then separating the forms. A sense of dread and terror permeates her work.

Dr. Schirmer's Playpen - Steel parts, copper wire, paper, underwear, 2010
Dr. Schirmer’s Playpen – Steel parts, copper wire, paper, underwear, 2010

Recently she has started experimenting with more geometric compositions, where soft, pretty colors and balanced composition contrast with horrific content. It is every bit as disturbing as the more fragmented pieces.

Lynn is totally prolific. This summer she exhibited in three shows — one solo — and curated a large exhibit and street art project last year. Among her major efforts are “Franklin and Madeline,” a two-person (James Cicatko and Lynn Schirmer) show about the Franklin Scandal in 2007. http://schirmerstudio.com/fm. “After Dinner Party is a website, exhibit, performance, and street art project she created to help educate the public about newly rediscovered knowledge of female anatomy.” http://afterdinnerparty.com/. Guess what it’s about!

Designing websites helps pay the rent in slow months. She created two of the best known RA/MC sites; S.M.A.R.T.S.’ ritual abuse pages at http://ritualabuse.us/‎ and “Ritual Abuse, Ritual Crime, and Healing” at http://www.ra-info.org, as well as http://nonstatetorture.org). They are visually elegant, easy to find your way around, non-triggering, and technically simple for the site owner to modify. See http://likelyarts.com/ for demos and be sure and check out the portfolio section.

I would love to have her talent, courage, and energy. Her background — no — I’ll stick with my own, thanks, not that I have a choice. But comparisons are pointless. Each of us does what we can to mend our broken self and heal the wounded world, and that is more than enough.