Interview of Lise Melhorn-Boe
Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. Lives with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Canadian artist, whose artist books and sculptural works explore feminist and environmental themes as well as the experience of illness.
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness
- Social MovementsEnvironmental Illness
- Biographical Note:
- Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. Lives with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Canadian artist, whose artist books and sculptural works explore feminist and environmental themes as well as the experience of illness.
- Melhorn-Boe, Lise
- Persons Present:
- Melhorn-Boe and Black
- Place Conducted:
- The interview was conducted by telephone.
- Supporting Documents:
- Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
- Interviewer Background and Preparation:
- The interview was conducted by Blair Black, MA, Graduate Student Researcher, UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Black’s dissertation focuses on the experience of queer people of color through collecting oral histories.
- Processing of Interview:
- The interviewer prepared for the interview by reading a pre-interview questionnaire completed by the narrator.
- 1.75 hrs
- Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
- Series Statement:
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness is a collection of interviews with over seventy individuals living in the U.S. and Canada whose family history, occupation, art practice, or activism have brought them into direct contact with illness experience and disability related to chronic, low-dose exposure to toxicant chemicals. The procurement of this collection (from March 2019 through September 2020) was sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women under the directorship of Rachel C. Lee, with interviews conducted by six undergraduates, five graduate students, two career staff, and two faculty members at CSW.
Introduction into early life and growing up in a toxic environment--Parents’ occupations--Growing up in Northwestern Quebec and Northern Ontario--Studying architecture at Carleton--Close encounters to various chemicals in art school--Introduction to and influence on art--Chemical sensitivities affecting her art production after art school--Experience in undergrad and art school--Dealing with cigarette smoke sensitivity while briefly working at an art museum in between undergrad and art school--Life after graduate school--Living and accommodating with MCS after exposure in art school--Mold in her house making it an unlivable condition eventually selling the house to move someplace else--Adjusting cancer therapy to accommodate MCS--Experimenting with various treatments to reduce chemical toxicity in the body--Working and traveling with MCS--Meeting and helping another woman with MCS--Treating and renovating the moldy house before selling--Relationship with doctors since having MCS and discovering MCS and searching for compatible doctors--Family health history--Relationship between art, breast cancer, the environment and MCS--Discussion of various art pieces and difficulty with placing art in museums--Art switching focus to poems about sewing--Reception of art and interest from some environmentalists
Scheduling for Session 3
Recap of craftivist group involvement--Daily life now living with MCS--Awareness of exhaustion while driving--Differences in perceiving the smell of perfumes--Divorce from husband--Feeling exhausted and wanting more children--Relationship with her son and homeschooling him--Attending meetings with a support group in Kingston, Ontario, Canada--Joining newsletter “Our Toxic Times”--Finding a laptop cover with a venting system on “Our Toxic Times”--Living in a house with mold and the difficulties of working with the computer--Renting out half of the apartment and setting rules for the tenant to not use perfumed products--The impact of MCS on social life--MCS as life constraining--Relationship with the woman who she picks up DVDs for--5G network and the fear of electromagnetic radiation--Questions on the oral history project--Chemical Entanglements--The shift in society’s attitude towards chemical sensitivity in comparison to the past--Seeing positive changes and is met with less hostility--Hopes to see that less toxic materials used--Finding alternatives for plastics