“I’d Burn A Thousand More Temples In Your Name” by Austin James

In September 2018, I created a full-scale art installation in memory of my late brother Justin, whose life and health were affected by serious obesity, and whose birthday was approaching. It goes without saying that this was a very emotional piece for my family, but I find that art helps me express myself in a way that truly liberates my thoughts.

After working through the necessary steps to put together this art installation, I noticed my ability to find piece with his absence and recognize how obesity has affected me personally. I loved my brother, who struggled deeply with obesity, and a loss like this is something I hope no one ever has to endure – especially in part from a disease we can try fighting.

Participants of my installation were able to see a timeline of moments in my brothers’ life, as well as childhood art projects and collected items. In addition, there was a portion that scientifically outlined obesity displayed through graphs focused in Chicago and

Obesity is a growing disease that lives almost subconsciously in our society and day-to-day life. You can see it in the way environment shapes our health. You can see it in a loved one who has difficulty flying in airline seats, breathing while walking up the stairs, or finding energy in the afternoon.

My sincerest hope for my art installation and my story us that loved ones, and people who are themselves struggling with obesity, can recognize and alleviate important symptoms before it’s too late. One of the hardest aspects of obesity is how chronic and complex it really is.

It was important for me to have people process emotional responses to my art installation, but it was even more important that they had credible information to take way. I thank the OAC for giving me the resources to be able to make that happen. Facing obesity and talking about it honestly, openly and without judgement is the best way to show support and find help.