Visual

Healing Through Art

The Malissa Perry Project

Attend

More:

WHAT: “The Malissa Perry Project” shows as one of five “Healing Through Art” exhibits
WHEN: Through Jan. 31
WHERE: St. Joseph Medical Center, 2901 Squalicum Pkwy
COST: The works of art are for sale
INFO: http://www.peacehealth.org or www.christenmattix.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Malissa Perry likes to listen to Christmas music throughout the year. The 46-year-old artist is also known for waking up at 6am to start her day—typically by dancing, followed by making her bed and practicing her own version of yoga.

“She is absolutely herself, completely authentic and free,” says Christen Mattix, who’s been one of Malissa’s caregivers since the summer of 2013, when a chance meeting with Malissa’s mother at the Community Food Co-op led to a meaningful career change.

Christen says that although she’s encountered plenty of people who initially have stereotypes about Malissa—who has Down’s Syndrome, and communicates primarily through body and sign language—many change their minds once they’ve gotten to know the force of nature.

“Some well-meaning folks react with pity when I tell them about Malissa—as if her condition is sad, as though her life is a waste,” Christian says. “Actually, she is one of the most contented and energetic women I know.”

At one of five “Healing Through Art” exhibits on display until Jan. 31 throughout PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, visitors to the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Lobby can discover for themselves another aspect of Malissa’s personality. “The Malissa Perry Project” combines Christen’s portraits of her friend alongside Malissa’s abstract paintings—eye-catching works that combine layers of marker, glitter and paint with found objects sourced from her daily life (shoelaces, beads, balloons, etc.)

“I think the assumption is that because Malissa is dependent on her staff (including me) for 24-hour care, that she is somehow ‘less than,’” Christen says. “By doing a two-person show with her, I want to affirm that she is my equal. When one views my portraits of Malissa alongside her own paintings, one gets a sense of her voice, her authority and subjectivity as an artist, and more importantly, as a human person.”

Christen says Malissa had already been making drawings with felt tip pens on old computer paper when another staff member, Nancy Daugherty, realized she had talent and gifted her with a blank canvas and paint. When she started working with superior materials, Christen says a “whole new world of possibilities” opened up for her in terms of the subtlety of her colors and layering.

When she’s completed a piece, Malissa simply refuses to add more paint to the work, even if others aren’t sure that she’s finished with it.

“When Malissa says it’s done, it’s done,” Christen says.

For Christen’s own work in the exhibit—portraits of Malissa smiling, petting a golden retriever, hugging friends, lacing cards and celebrating her birthday—she was inspired by the power of Malissa’s gestures.

“As a nonverbal woman, Malissa expresses herself completely through her body—her sparkly eyes with a hint of mischief, her hands caressing her dog, the soft roundness of her shoulders,” Christen says. “I also adore her bright colors and clashing patterns. She opens up fun, refreshing possibilities that are avant garde in their bold defiance of fashion norms.”

Those viewing Christen’s works that are part of “The Malissa Perry Project” will quickly note the affection and love she has for her co-exhibitor and charge, but Christen says she’d be remiss if she didn’t point out that there are still moments that she gets discouraged.

She recently asked Malissa’s mom, Fran Perry, to speak about the challenges of being in a close relationship with her daughter. Fran responded, pointing out that “Malissa inhabits whatever she feels completely, whether joy or sorrow. Given that she is nonverbal and uses limited sign language, there can be real anguish for her that is shared by her staff when she is in physical or emotional pain—and can’t communicate about it.  [Working with Malissa] is not either/or, it’s both joy and sorrow—but the good outweighs the bad.”

Christen agrees. It’s one of the reasons she included the piece “White Painting” in the show. It’s a small portrait of Malissa curled in on herself, crying. She painted it to “honor her moments of sorrow alongside the happiness.

“Quite frankly, I think that’s the human condition. We are all laughing through our tears.”

BoS
More Visual...
Heavy Metal
From sparks to sculpture

A passion for extended guitar solos and amplified distortion won’t be a requirement for those attending a couple of metal-focused exhibits on display in Bellingham through the month. Instead, all that’s needed is the capacity to appreciate what happens when heat and sparks help welders…

more »
Verdant Valley
Enchanted in Edison

One of the most refreshing exhibits in the Skagit Valley is the combined show of artwork by Kathleen Faulkner and Ann Morris at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison. Faulkner’s work, often seen here during the past 10 years, has achieved a high level of beauty and significance in her recent…

more »
Happy Accidents
A date with history

Sheri Wright swears she didn’t initially make the connection that the exhibit of painter Katherine Eva Houlahan’s works showing as part of an occasional “Women Artists of the Northwest” series at Fourth Corner Frames and Gallery would be on display during Women’s History Month.

“I guess…

more »
Events
Today
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Dig Deep

3:00pm|Deming Library

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Pub Run

6:00pm|Stone's Throw Brewery

Ancient Beauty

6:30pm|Deming Library

Native American Flute Workshop

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Cross-Country Bicycling Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Wild Mercy

7:00pm|Village Books

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Legally Blonde
Tomorrow
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

World Water Day Beach Cleanup

12:00pm|Squalicum Beach

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Barry Lopez and Horizon

7:00pm|Village Books

Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Sierra Hull

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Tarnation, Ryan Stiles

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Hunts Trove Web
Saturday
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Tarnation, Ryan Stiles

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Honeywagon Runs

8:00am|Riverside Park

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

WNPS Field Trip

9:00am|Breazeale Interpretive Center

Native Plant Sale

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Nordic Roots Seminar

9:00am|United Methodist Church

Spring Studio Seconds Sale

10:00am|Blue Water Pottery

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Youth Ag Day

10:00am|Skagit Farmers Supply

Quilt Museum Annex Open House

10:00am|Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Dahlias Made Easy

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Free My Heart

12:00pm|Village Books

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Forest Bathing

1:00pm|Rockport State Park

A Family Immigration Story

1:00pm

Fidalgo and Mount Baker Youth Symphonies

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

PechuKucha Night

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Cheese Classes

5:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Giovanni & the Camino of St. Francis

7:00pm|Village Books

Manouche NW Concert Series

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Contra Dance with the Alphabeats

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Gabriel and Rebecca Manalac

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

Skagit Symphony's Masterpiece Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

see our complete calendar »

Village Books The Hunts Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web Legally Blonde