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Search and Reunion: Clowns, Quilts, and Burns, Oh My!

Updated: May 18


Part 1: Clowns

Generated by Chat - GPT using prompts by Becca Flatt.


I dislike clowns. You may be thinking, Becca, why did we start here? I swear I have reasons, so please hear me out. Clowns have always had an unsettling effect on me. The first time I could ever really place why they freaked me out was when I was around 15 years old, standing in my parent's friend's enormous living room looking at several Chuck Oberstein and John Peers paintings. Both men were painters of sad clowns who often looked like they were struggling to make it one more day, possibly crying while wearing the quintessential clown makeup, stubble coating their chins, deep wrinkles creasing their foreheads and the sides of their eyes and mouths. These men looked like they had seen some shit and still took the time to sit down, look in the mirror, and apply the makeup that clowns need to have on to be clowns. The whole thing struck me as odd. "Why would someone struggling put so much effort into looking happy?" asked the adoptee unironically. 


I remember standing there and thinking these paintings had deeper meanings, and I could not quite wrap my head around them. Something about their eyes was off, and even though they were smiling, they were not okay. I understood their smiles were fake at the time, but I didn't have the language to name it. I do now. Clowns are incongruant. Clown makeup disguises human truth. 


 Until I was in my mid-20s, every year, I would return to Utah with my folks, and I would end up standing in these peoples' livingroom having a full-on existential crisis about what had happened to and for these men and why they felt the need to make themselves look happy when they were wrestling with demons. What was the point? I wanted them to come alive and tell me their truths. I stood before them, coming face to face with my trauma. I begged and pleaded to come alive and reveal why I felt so scared of being anything but happy. I recognize now that clowning is not for the clown but for the audience. The clown has no reason to do his makeup unless someone perceives him. If you have never had to hide parts of yourself from the world to survive or are not ready to acknowledge that this has happened to you, this blog post might not resonate.

To be continued...
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