don’t hide the madness

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Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you think no one is listening - Allen Ginsberg

I’ve been contemplating the ‘greats’. The ones who made a big dent, like Allen Ginsberg from the quote above. Or Victoria Woolf. Or Galileo. Countless humans through history held their heads up in spite of the expectations around them. They created from a place of deep conviction inside of them. They were not persuaded.

If you think about it, everything we know was born of someone listening to their inner madness. EVERYTHING. Stop and think of that for a moment. All moments of historical impact. All inventions. Everything.

These great artists, scientists, inventors, explorers, etc did not give a rat’s you-know-what about what the expectation, standard, or ‘known’ way was in their circle, society, community was.

Sometimes I wonder what other GREAT possibilities just never happened because someone was too afraid to step out of the box.


"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." - Jack Kerouac


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What you Can Do

Follow your inner light.

Don’t hide the madness.

And …

What are the things you believe people would define as your ‘madness’, and so you hide it?

Stop and think, feel, and hold this …

Where is your superpower in that ‘judgement’ you have come to believe?

What about other superpowers?

Can you name them?

Can you look your eyeballs in the mirror and name them?

Can you place your hands over your heart and belly while you look yourselves in the eyeballs in the mirror and name them?

What would you say if you thought no one was listening?

If you could just let yourself go … what would you say? what would you do? where would you go?

If you could tell yourself ANYTHING, anything at all, what would you say?

If you could admit a secret that you hide … what would it be?

If you could provide yourself ANY pleasure … would you? Can you? Will you?

Is there an aspect of your project that you are avoiding or hiding because it is ‘madness’?

Is there an aspect of YOU? A vital aspect? The one that would set you FREE, that you keep in chains?

Often, it is our INNER LIGHT that is judged, locked up, and hidden

because we fear it will be seen as MADNESS.


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my deepening

I’ve been listening to my own madness. My own desires. Stripping back what doesn’t fit or serve.

It’s scary. But I don’t care. I love my greatness, my madness, my genius … more than I love my fear.

I’m opening my world to fresh ideas. I’m tired of clinging to stale, putrid things that don’t even want me. Isn’t that always the irony of our clinging to the things that are not our madness?

I am experiencing the tiny seedlings finally, through the floor of the charred forest I’ve been trying to revive.

Did I tell you guys? I took down my war work in my studio. Put everything away, all the relics back into boxes in storage. All the art into a safe place to photograph, place on my website, and place online for purchase.

It’s funny, in the putting away I am finding it for the first time. I’m finding ME, too.

Understanding what I have somewhat lazily called ‘my war work’. Why I felt it so deeply. What it all actually meant. All those years of drowning in it, fearing how to talk about it, fearing what people would think. I put it away. And boom. Here it all comes. A deep love for the work, for the me who did it, for all who I honored, for the truly unspeakably deep ways the work changed me.

I was talking to my good friend, another historian, yesterday. I laughingly referred to saying goodbye to Concentration Camp Girl. Oh hahahahaha … you know how we do that to ourselves. Make fun.

My friend got quiet for a moment.

She said: I think calling yourself Concentration Camp Girl is extremely limiting.

She’s right. That is an adaptive, defensive, derogatory, and dishonoring way to describe myself or my work. It is also a rather flippant way to refer to something so horrible and real for so many humans.

What I said about myself is a very fine example of Mr Ginsberg’s quote, isn’t it?

This might be better:

My devotional dive into horrible history was pretty badass. Brave. Visionary, even. I cultivated a prolific body of work in photos, mixed media journaling, film, large paintings, and paper collages. And writing. Tons of it. Oh, and like, a whole book. I changed my entire life and my perception of humanity. Forever.

That’s only the beginning of what I’d say if I thought no one was listening. ... ... … … … and if I truly took a moment to listen to myself.

The below video is me removing the very last - and a very small portion - of a very beautiful and MASSIVE installation I did in my studio. I did this installation privately. Without showing it all over social media, or feeling the need to explain or package it for military people or historians or artists or whoever.

I know the video isn’t flashy, isn’t less than a minute to appeal to our dwindling attention spans.

What it IS is a deep honoring. A putting-away with a full and heavy heart. A longing, a deep soul love, a calling, a passion being put to rest.

Because I listened to myself. And it is time. I wanted to put it all away, all of it, with devotion.

The paper and fabric you see me removing is just a portion of something I made quietly. All of it, including the above wall collage. For me. It was my madness. My eccentricity. My genius. MY VOICE, unchained.

And it led me straight to me.

And a whole truckload of epiphanies … including leaving behind the ‘war work’ … and taking down the installation, putting all of it behind me.

For now.

Or maybe not.

I don’t know. But I suspect if I follow my own madness, I’ll circle back around someday.

I’m pretty sure that someday, Ilse will have more to say.

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