What is a Lapbook Gallery?

Defiant Bitch 1Near death for most of 2020, Shay Seaborne CPTSD struggled to effectively communicate their dire condition to trauma-uninformed healthcare providers. Additionally, they lacked exhibition space and opportunities to share their art. Shay devised a creative solution: the Lapbook Gallery.

These exhibitions resemble picture books, which succinctly narrate a trauma story or illustrate neurobiology concepts in 10  paintings. They were inspired by the PechaKucha format, where a presenter shows 20 slides for 20 seconds each. Given their intense nature, Shay realized that 20 images were too many for these narratives. Consequently, they reduced it to 10 paintings per Lapbook Gallery, creating a safer space for viewers to engage with their story.

The Lapbook Galleries became Shay’s means to communicate their lived experience to wider audiences without overwhelming horror narratives. Their motivation extended beyond brevity; it was about sharing their truth with compassion and understanding.

Defiant Bitch 2Shay began building a narrative library through their paintings, to “change the narrative.” Each 10-page picture book story represented an opportunity to infuse meaning into one thread of their tumultuous life journey.

With each addition to the Lapbook Gallery stories, Shay noticed the threads of their experiences intertwining, forming a unified and coherent framework that is unique and restorative. They envision this process benefiting others who might need to develop their own coherent narrative.

Made him stop hitting meAs the stories and images interwove, they formed a multidimensional cohesive structure, bearing witness to the harrowing experiences Shay endured at the hands of men who abused their authority, particularly as “caregivers.”

Through the portable and accessible format of the Lapbook Gallery, Shay felt empowered to share their story on their terms while providing healthcare providers a bridge to engage with their narrative empathetically. It transcended mere artistic expression, becoming a powerful tool for fostering understanding, compassion, and mutual healing in healthcare.

I gave my monster truth and mercy on his deathbed.Shay’s art was more than visuals; it was a deeply somatic experience, reflecting their body’s quest for safety and connection after enduring psychiatric and surgical abuse. Recognizing the power of shared experience, Shay crafted the Lapbook Gallery to facilitate co-regulation between viewer and artist, fostering a profound connection and mutual healing. The essence of Shay’s art lies not only in its unique expression but also in its transformative impact on the viewer. By inviting viewers to explore the gallery at their own pace, Shay created a space for intimate dialogue and emotional resonance, transcending conventional communication.

In this shared experience, both artist and viewer can find solace and understanding, demonstrating the resilience of the human spirit in the face of chronic and extreme adversity.