Up Close and Real Personal: Appleton Pictures
Let me first tell you how our relationship began many years ago...
My Mother has had Type 1 Diabetes for over 54 years and when I noticed insulin bottles and syringes, both that I grew up with seeing in our fridge in a daily basis, on 22nd Street years ago, I had to find out more about the artist behind the art.
I began sending my Mother more images that I had found on the streets depicting wheatpastes and prolific imagery from the same artist. She then shared the pictures with her friends and suppliers of her insulin pump, etc.
I reached out via DM on Social Media and we have remained friends ever since.
Appleton is the only artist that I know of raising Diabetic Awareness through his work. He recently had a solo show in NYC and I loved every single piece as I truly related to both his struggle with the disease and his haunting imagery. I then realized I had never interviewed him before and knew that I had to now.
When did you first know the streets would be your way of spreading the message for Diabetic Awareness?
I have always loved street art since I was a kid. Publicly grabbing space to get people's attention—to make them laugh and cry or just to think.
Connecting to things and ideas they we merely just walk by--Political statements, public displays of discontent and satirical commentary have covered cities for Centuries.
To me the streets are where the real message is received. Not forced on us through TV and the internet. But to be taken in by those who's awareness of such art and messages are relevant. Street art is the opposite of modern messaging.
What type of support have you received, if any, from the many Diabetic sponsors/support groups?
I have received incredible support from many many incredible people. One organization (Beyond Type One & You’re Just my Type) have been incredibly supportive.
Beyond Type One sponsored a show last year in Miami on the roof of the Miami Soho House. Featuring my work and another artist Natalie Irish on the roof. Everyday I meet more and more people with and without diabetes….a pleasure to meet them all. Talk of diabetes and strengthen the common bond of awareness and support.
Have the big pharmas ever tried to stop your work from going up?
They’re too big to worry about anyone……
No—my message is awareness, to all who don’t know or are limited by misconceptions of diabetes.
Forever cynical that more can be done. Big pharma has no interest in curing diabetes. It makes far too much money—could be a global economic breakdown if diabetes were cured.
Too big to fail. Million and millions would be out of work, companies would have to slash whole departments that were no longer needed. The JDRF, all endocrinologists, pharmacies, all diabetic side markets, etc. —gone.
Will never happen—there's no money in curing diabetes.
What inspires you to keep spreading the message?
What inspires me are little ones, who grow up not knowing any different. They have a disease and their brother and sisters don’t. Their friends don’t. But that's okay because we all feel good and bad some times—diabetic kids more often. Throughout life we’re taught to tough it out or keep it in. Even harder with diabetes. A heavy load for kids, everyday until they die.
Please tell our audience more about your solo show and how you chose what work to show?
My solo show is called “Too Young for Type One”—we’re all too young for type one. 8—to—88.
I was 6 years old when I went into a coma. Almost died. What a horrible thing for a parent to go through. God rest her —my mother would endure that experience twice. A sister before I was born (Beatrice) would die at 7 years old of unrecognized diabetes. I'm sure most would say they just create—and some how things fall into place. I will always have youth/childhood loss and children somehow represented in my work.
Do you have any favorite pieces you created and what makes them stand out to you?
There’s a few…for sentimental reasons.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
I would like to be celebrating that diabetes has been cured—they told me it would be by now.
It won’t be cured-people will have much cooler gadgets to keep them diabetic for the rest of their lives. There’s no money in curing diabetes. Never will be. It's too big to fail—a global economic breakdown. Millions out of work. Unfortunately, it will never happen —as it goes I will continue to be an activist/artist/speaker and the voice of diabetes awareness.
Where can our audience learn more about both you and your work?