“A Day in the Life” with Montréal Visual Artist Lavi Picu

Lavi Picu and I met more than thirty years ago. She was not an artist back then, but she was already into poetry. She’s always been writing. It’s only later on, when she got sick, that she turned to art as a cathartic outlet, and found a way to process the intangible emotions and feelings that accompanied her struggle with Lyme disease. Before falling in love with acrylics, she was already a passionate chronic illness advocate through her blogging on A-ZLyme.com and other platforms like The Mighty, Steemit and Hive.

Being a creative spirit myself, I always enjoyed seeing how her art evolved over the years, witnessing the various innovative techniques she has used within her works, beautifully reflecting her passion for life, colours and the need to raise awareness on chronic illnesses and the hurdles of living with them.

Her artistry reflects her resilience and her power of introspection, as she tries to illustrate throughout as many mediums as possible the entanglement of symptoms and sensations defining her experience and journey. She never ceased to surprise me with her creativity.

Her art practice encompasses figurative artworks (portraits of women touched by Lyme), semi-abstract or abstract compositions realized in acrylic, series of fluid artworks (a visceral world showcasing the journey of the spirochetes throughout the human body), fluorescent artworks (reconstructions of images of Borrelia seen on a dark field microscope), and an intricate interplay of ink doodles and neurographic art.

Each of her artworks is a visual diary, inviting viewers to navigate the physical and emotional landscape of chronic illness alongside her. Motivated by the desire to promote understanding and validation, her work shines as a symbol of hope and empowerment and her distinctive artistic expression inspires others to discover strength in their own struggles.”

-Written by Elena Iordan, Friend

Lavi Picu
Working on a fluid art series: “Under My Skin”, a visceral journey of the spirochetes throughout my body.
Lavi Picu
Selfie-break while working on my fluorescent artworks, a series that illustrates the Borrelia burgdorferi (main culprit for Lyme) and the co-infections, as seen on a dark field microscope.
Outside the office and the studio, on a regular day.
Posing with my fluorescent artworks at Salon Des Artistes organized by Lenoir Gallery in the Old Port of Montreal, at Marché Bonsecours, July 2023.
One of my ink drawings (22” x 28” ), Mrs. Babesia, the co-infection causing air hunger, an invisible symptom of Lyme.
Lavi Picu
My ink doodles wall at Quai 5160 in Verdun, September 2023.
Lavi Picu
In front of my ink artworks at the PM’s Papineau office, in February 2024, during the vernissage of the Arrimage exhibition organized by Espace d’expressions et de création.

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Which neighbourhood are you in?

I live and work from home, in Verdun. It’s a wonderful and vibrant borough.

What do you do?

I’m a self-taught multidisciplinary artist with a background in linguistics, juggling more than one career. I explore the intersection of visual art and poetry. My artistic practice sheds light on issues relating to chronic illness and the social, cultural and medical frameworks that contribute to one’s experience of invisible illness and chronic pain.

Through the creation of three-dimensional objects, I discovered that my artwork not only served as a form of catharsis but also as a means of documentation. By translating my experiences into tangible forms, I aim to raise awareness and initiate discussions surrounding the invisible nature of illness, particularly chronic Lyme disease.

As a Lyme patient, I share my health journey in the hopes of fostering meaningful discussions and providing support to others in similar situations, thus creating a sense of community and shared identity. While the experiences of chronic illness vary greatly among individuals, I aim to contribute my voice to the collective narrative. By doing so, I seek to broaden our understanding of chronic illness, challenging societal perceptions and advocating for a reevaluation of how chronically ill individuals are perceived and treated within Western society. Through my work, I aim to expand the discourse surrounding chronic illness, sparking further questions and prompting a reconsideration of the societal frameworks that govern our perceptions of health and illness.

What are you currently working on?

I recently delved into sculpture and I am exploring new mediums and materials. I am working on a new project that focuses solely on one of the invisible symptoms of Lyme disease, dysesthesias (pricking sensation, feeling like pins and needles). I approached it with an open mind, to learn from it, to see what it brings to my work, and how it could help me better represent the limitations set by my illness. The result will be an encounter between the materials and myself, a series of works showing a glimpse of one’s body in a constant state of becoming.

Where can we find your work?

On Sentier des Arts at La Prairie, Montreal Nord Library, PM’s Papineau deputy office, my website and social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Gallea, HelloArt and private art collections around the world.

 

About Emilea Semancik 89 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: