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Rebecca Niederlander

Updated: Jun 6


Priority Two.  That’s what he called me.  “Given your Mast Cell disease, you are a priority two, so yes, we would like you to come right in and get test today.”

For the past few days I had had a couple weird physical things going on that were making me start to panic.  They could have been a big flare up of my autoimmune disease.  But for any of us with chronic illnesses right now, symptoms that we just address are now looked at with a more severe and studied eye. I got my results.  Negative.  No Covid19.  No what-would-be-a-death-sentence-given-all-the-other-shite.  Cool. So, how am I? When this first started, it was actually really good for me. Being able to stay home, without having to bow out of obligations because of my illness, was stress-reducing in a whole new way that felt AMAZING!  My husband works at the Jet Propulsion Lab, and nerds are great at working from home.  The lab started telework back in mid March and has made it clear they won’t be going back any time soon. He is content. My teenager is happily using all the apps to stay connected with her buddies.  And she is cooking, using her aerial silks rig to keep sane, and changing her hair color with her moods.  All good.


But I can’t make any work in my studio.  Because of my physical limitations these days I need my assistant to do the physical building of everything.  And I can’t have them around because the aforementioned death sentence if I get this virus.


I was able to have them come over to work with me, us both fully masked, to build Central SensitizationCentral sensitization is the condition of the nervous system associated with the development and maintenance of chronic pain. When central sensitization occurs, the nervous system goes through a process called wind-up and gets regulated in a persistent state of high reactivity. I see what the world is experiencing right now as such a thing. An individual experiencing this must learn to work with the brain to talk to the pain receptor cells to find ways to calm them down. May art be that calming down for the world.



The work is part of a beautiful county-wide project by Durden and Ray, a gallery here in Los Angeles, that invited 100 artists to put work outside where people could see it.  Because creative practice really is the connection, and the healer, when we have nothing else.  It seems to me How We Are is the same thing.  If we are connected, we are alive in each others eyes.  I see you. You see me.  We matter to each other.

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020