PTSD healing through sculpture

I started sculpting around the same time I began therapy for PTSD. Here’s what happened in my sculpture unintentionally. These are posted in the order they were completed. Looking back, they are like a journal in clay of the healing process.

Click to enlarge any image.

“The Pawn”


“River’s Dawn” -a piece about hope.

“Why?”  -anger with God.

“The Truth”

“Letting in the Light” -revealing and demanding the truth. This marked the most difficult time in therapy.

“A New Direction”


“Free Diver” -freedom. (Flashbacks stopped)

I know it’s silly of me, I just thought maybe someone else out there going through PTSD might find some hope in these.


Two kneeling ladies

twin2 by Kim Marchesseault twin2 by Kim Marchesseault twin2 by Kim Marchesseault Here is what I’ve been working on. I will sculpt clothes on the second lady as soon as I figure out what she will be wearing.

Infinity isn’t a number

Infinity isn't a number by Kim Marchesseault My son broke this news to me the other night while we were saying our goodnights. We were arguing about something and I used infinity in my argument. He said, “Infinity isn’t a number”.  I didn’t necessarily think of infinity as a number, but I confess I also didn’t declare with any absolution that it wasn’t a number either. I didn’t even think about it much until my son brought it up.

How many times have I taken infinity for granted because I so easily speak of it, we so often use it in math and assume it exists. There is a theory that there are more real  numbers than there are whole numbers but it is null and void if infinity is true because both whole numbers and real numbers would be infinite so they can never outnumber one another.  …and how do you prove infinity exists? or doesn’t? I mean, if you eat your entire birthday cake, and there is no more left, infinity doesn’t exist, right? but you know there are ingredients for more cakes of infinite variation in flavor, size and decoration and when the current supply of flour is depleted, more wheat will grow, there are gluten-free cakes, rice cakes,  so you can eat all of your cake and have more, too! but never exactly the same cake again although some of those molecules will likely be reinvented as cake someday.

How many people in the art world claim everything has already been done? but I am a true believer in infinity and strive in my art to come up with something unique, even if it is simply a variation of what has been done. If someone else on the other side of the world comes up with the same concept at the same time (which, I am told is often the case) I hope we execute it with, at the very least, slight differences. Some theorize this happens because of something called collective unconscious.

I refuse to flatly copy because I am not a copy machine so take your stack of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper and stick it somewhere else.

I want to be inspired, to build on the knowledge we have acquired (if I am so lucky as to be aware of it) and take it farther or simply take it somewhere it hasn’t been, perhaps even to a point of regression, maybe to a lateral place but at least go where no man has gone before…or have I watched too many Star Trek episodes? If anyone ever proves infinity doesn’t exist, they will have discovered the true end to the universe, the end of the world and we will fall off the edge just like Christopher Columbus did…er…wait. That didn’t happen. Scratch that.

So my son has named my new sculpture, which has a broken infinity symbol in the cloth that I was thinking about and trying to figure out when he said that, “Infinity isn’t a number”.

And I am left wondering.

Blue skies, slight chance of pain

I daydreamed I was like Michelangelo while painting this mural of clouds on the ceiling of Cinelli’s, an Italian restaurant in Durham last year. I know his Sistine Chapel was much… more. I had just started sculpting and, hey, it was a daydream! 

I had no scaffolding, only a wobbly ladder and I developed a new respect for the man who could paint entire masterpieces with his neck craned like that.

One day I heard fighting in the back while I was on my wobbly ladder and I was really upset. I felt helpless while someone was getting hurt. Afterward, I had to leave for the day because I couldn’t work anymore. I had nightmares about it.

The next day I saw the person I had been worried about. I walked into the restaurant and he was standing there looking up at one of the clouds I had painted, smiling quietly. His smile is my greatest accomplishment as an artist.

Dressing up Faith

Faith 2 by Kim Marchesseault  Faith 2 by Kim Marchesseault

Here is my second version of Faith. This time she’s clothed.

Confessions of a Dumpster Diver

3-16-06 –I picked the kids up at school today. We were talking about our daily adventures. It took me about 15 minutes to convince the kids I had actually been dumpster diving. After we pulled into the driveway I had to show them what I found in the dumpster as proof I wasn’t pulling their legs. I guess it was hard for them to imagine.

The local stone company invited me to go diving in their dumpster for castaway marble and granite I can use as bases for my sculptures and I had the best time. They even came out to meet me when they saw me at their dumpster.  Who knew what fun you could have in a dumpster?

Dumpster diving is so liberating!

3-22-06 –My husband says the best thing he ever found in a dumpster happened when he was 15. It was a book called Modern Sex Techniques. I don’t care who wrote it, I just want to thank whoever threw it away!

8-29-06 –Well, it’s true. I do smell bad, but at least I got some very nice granite pieces to use as bases for my sculpture from dumpster diving this morning. One guy who passed by was very kind to carefully place his garbage into the dumpster so his drink wouldn’t splash on me.

8-30-06 –I went back for more marble and granite and this time I wore my leather gloves. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure! My finger tips ache from handling the rough edged stone yesterday without gloves…It’s even painful to type this.

These gloves must make me look very, very sexy because while I was standing in the dumpster all sweaty and gross with the smell of garbage juice wafting through the air (you know that smell when it rains on rancid garbage? well, it rained last night). It was in this lovely, romantic setting that some guy tried to pick me up!

Now can you imagine if the girl he tried to pick up in the dumpster actually was single and a marriage resulted, how would they explain the way they met to their families?

8-31-06 –Last night I had trouble sleeping because I was having nightmares about the smell of garbage juice. I got out of bed to wash my hands twice. It’s that bad.

***I remember those nightmares about the smell of garbage juice. It’s actually a term in the urban dictionary. I believe this is how Hell would smell. I couldn’t go back.  If you want a long career as a Dumpster Diver, never go after it rains.

Exceptional Value of Garbage


I just …does this image really need any comment? It’s profound enough on it’s own.

p.s. Thank you to the Museum of History in Raleigh.