The Delaware Division of the Arts’ Mezzanine Gallery presents 2022 DDOA Individual Artist Fellow Maia Palmer’s exhibition, “Making the Invisible, Visible”, running November 4-25, 2022. Maia Palmer was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She works primarily in acrylics and charcoal, and has also created community murals, digital works, and figurative sculptures. Palmer earned a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. She has exhibited nationally as well as internationally in Spain, Germany, and China. Palmer has lived all around the globe and is interested in capturing the unique spirit of each location that she experiences. Committed to “being a positive force for social change,” Palmer is the high school visual arts teacher at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. She feels strongly about teaching there, saying “I am a product of public school and I want to be part of rebuilding its strength.” One of the most exciting aspects of receiving the Fellowship is “the recognition of my work” and the ability to further its scope and her goal to “help amplify the voices of those who are not always heard.”
“Making the Invisible, Visible” features a series of migraine self-portraits documenting Palmer’s experiences as a migraineur over the past 15 years. To be clear, migraine is a neurological disease, one that is debilitating and painfully real. Yet it is frequently referred to as an “invisible illness,” as there are often no visible symptoms. Women in particular are subject to dismissive treatment because of this, as Palmer has experienced first-hand.
With these works, Palmer examines her relationship with migraine. She merges autobiographical experiences with imagery and text laden with both historical and personal value. Each of these images captures a real, private moment that she has in fact experienced – from hiding under blankets to wearing hand-made ‘migraine boxes’. She says, “Creating these drawings is a visceral process of acknowledging the larger than life physical and emotional pain that migraine has caused in my life – as well as the emotional and physical growth it has helped me accomplish. I am ultimately a stronger person as I emerge on the other side of chronic migraine, cherishing every moment and delighting in our capacity as humans to overcome and endure.”
Navigating her own experiences, Palmer has embodied the physical and mental trauma of this illness by manipulating surfaces and materials to simulate the experience of a migraine – the tearing of paper, or the piercing of a surface with needle and thread. By making visible the invisible trauma of migraine, she aims to bring awareness to this consistently under-funded, chronically misunderstood disease.