To destroy or not to destroy your mind and body, that is the question. While you may have instantly answered no in your mind, think deeper about certain social situations you find yourself in, especially if you’re recognized as one of “the youth.” Drugs and alcohol can be very sociable. A shy, timid college student may find himself or herself uncontrollably flapping his or her gums after two—or more—shots of liquor. Ultimately, freedom of choice reigns supreme when it comes to your party choices, and I’m not one to judge. I have been known to frequently partake in soirees.

Artist Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson used to believe that one of the most difficult decisions a person could make about their life is determining whether or not to destroy their body and personality with drugs. She has recently come to understand that the decision is actually taken lightly and without much thought. I can agree having lost a number of friends that mindlessly chased the dragon. Consequences held little merit in their decision-making process. “Nifties” made my high schools pals feel wonderful, like nothing was wrong with the world. Their fix was cheap, that is until their bodies physically needed the poisonous substance multiple times a day. I don’t have any quips about this point in my life. If my friends had made better choices they would still be around.

Yuliya’s painting “Spiking in Impulse” is part of a series based upon the ideas of “cold-hard fear and loss.” The painting was featured in the previous month’s gallery at IGCA “Shelter.” (See blog post below)

“The pain of losing a young relative to drugs, when they have so much of their life in front of them, is a pain that causes a dullness of the soul that never leaves the affected family members,” Helgesen-Thompson stated in the painting’s description.

The silhouette outlined on the canvas stumbles through the bleak landscape. The clouded atmosphere contrived by man-made substances has become reality. A temptress whispers into the ear of the lost cause, persuading the character to give into its undying temptations and thus feeding the black tar monster tearing away at the soul. Heavy greens, yellows, oranges and browns coat the terrain and the silhouette, as if it were a corroding rust.

Bloodstained ravens relax as they wait to claim another lost soul. In Alaska Native mythos, the raven represents many things. A raven is believed to be mankind’s protector and sometimes savior. The raven brought fire to early peoples so they would not die. But the raven is also a trickster. He play’s jokes on us, and he laughs and mankind’s expense.

I would like to believe my friends were tricked into throwing their lives away, but in reality it was their thoughtlessness that caused their spiraling downfalls.

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” –Jim Morrison