Lynn Schirmer

Bio & CV


Children are not born with a unified sense of self. They are, however, born with an innate ability to detect when they are being harmed. When they are faced at early stages of development with overwhelming or life threatening experiences, especially at the hands of caregivers, the normal integrated function of safe attachment is impossible and so a disordered and non-integrated, or dissociative response results.

My relationship to my body is the result of such a disordered process. I have never really fully inhabited it.

The figures in my work represent aspects of myself not yet integrated into a working whole of personality. They each have their experience of the world, relationships to each other, and feelings about what is essentially a shared body. For most of them the body is a danger zone, it is enemy territory. Entering it is a huge risk.

Our trajectories should lead towards cohesiveness and healing. The brain wants to repair itself; the heart desires more than anything else, safe, intimate attachment. I feel that want daily, with an almost unspeakable acuteness, but I haven't managed to overcome my dissociation. So you see in my work the only place where it feels safe to inhabit the body. You see me there, in my varied incarnations, looking back at you, the viewer. I am as vulnerable on paper and canvas as it is possible for me to be.


I have an extraordinary personal history, the details of which are almost guaranteed to invite incredulity. I am a survivor of torture and medical experimentation, beginning in childhood, both private and tax-funded. By exhibiting my artwork, I hope to raise awareness about these ongoing, yet widely unexposed human rights abuses committed against children and adults here in the US and other Western nations.

In service of this goal, in 2010, I intentionally created an additional alter ego named DIDiva. As a public persona, she is designed to help combat the stigma and ignorance surrounding responses to trauma such as dissociative conditions, but more specifically, to challenge the negatively sensationalized caricature of Dissociative Identity Disorder popularized by Hollywood and the media. DIDiva has served me well as a flamboyant Mistress of Ceremonies and hostess during recent showings of my artwork. She also holds forth at, an informational website about DID.

There is a great deal of revealing biographical information, in this Opening Statement, and on the Franklin & Madeline show pages. I also maintain a personal, activist site at


Solo Exhibitions

2013 "Alternate Dualities", Angle Gallery, Seattle.
2011 "Revenant Limbs", Trabant, Seattle.
"DIDiva & The Mirror Looks", CoCA Seattle.
2010 "DIDiva & The Mad Machines", Corridor Gallery.
2009 "Program", Form/Space Atelier.
2008 "Harlow Monkey", Form/Space Atelier.
2006 "Summer Clearance", Pioneer Square Saloon, Seattle, WA.
"Shattered", See Sound Lounge, Seattle, WA.
2005 Mnemonic Gallery, Seattle WA.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2015 "The Incredible Intensity of Just Being Human" Seattle City Hall.
2014 "The Incredible Intensity of Just Being Human" Highline College, Seattle.
"Boundaries" Twilight Gallery, Seattle.
"Ex Libris: 100 Artists, 100 Books" Axis, Seattle.
2013 "CoCA Collision" Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle.
"Lady Parts" True Love Gallery, Seattle.
2012 After Dinner Party
Artist Trust 25th Annual Auction, Seattle.
2011 "10 x 10 x 10 x Tieton" Juried exhibit, Tieton, WA
2010 "5th Annual Outsider Art in The Hamptons", Galerie BelAge, Westhampton Beach, NY.
"The Body Altered" Artsites Gallery, Riverhead, NY.
"2nd Annual International Inivtationl" Ouch My Eye Gallery, Seattle, WA
2009 City Hostel Seattle, room #301.
2008 "Breaking the Walls of Bias (3)", Galerie BelAge, Westhampton Beach, NY.
PONCHO Invitational Fine Art Auction.
Canvas Gallery, Pioneer Square.
2007 "Franklin & Madeline", Collaborative art project with James Cicatko, Ouch My Eye Gallery.
"Henry Bash", Henry Art Gallery.
2006 "Breaking the Walls of Bias", Trisha’s Gallery, Long Island, NY.
"The Beat Salon", Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA.
"Noise for the Needy", Project 108, Seattle, WA.
2005 Seattle University Human Rights Film and Art Festival. Seattle, WA.
The 8th International Festival de Art Singulier. Roquevaire, Provence, France.
2004 Seattle University Human Rights Film and Art Festival. Seattle, WA.
2002 "Breaking the Walls of Bias", Hofstra Museum, Hofstra University, Long Island, NY.
1998 "Whispers '98", Honorable Mention. Gallery on The Rim, San Francisco, CA.
1992 "Silent No More", Index Gallery, Vancouver, WA.
"Silent No More", The Art Gym, Marylhurst, OR.
1991 "Silent No More" Bumbershoot, Seattle, WA.
"The Great Earth Factory Show", Installation, Atlanta, GA.
1990 "No More Secrets", Seven Stages Performing Arts Center, Atlanta, GA.


Curator "Nightmare Inductions", 2014; "The More Things Change", 2015. Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Seattle, WA.

Curator "Undissembled", Trauma & Dissociation Conference, 2014.

Creator, Director, Curator, TK Art of the City Art Street Fair, Seattle, WA. 2014

Creator, Director, Curator, "After Dinner Party", Seattle, WA. 2012

Curator of Corridor Gallery, Tashiro Kaplan Building, Seattle, WA. 2004 – 2009.
Supervisor of Curatorial Interns: Angle Gallery, Tashiro Kaplan building. 2005 – 2009.

Curator "Tell!" Included a community art/participationproject, reference section, a performance, and a series of panel discussions. Wonderful World of Art, Seattle, WA. 1993.


"Luminous Bodies", Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Selected Press

2015 Gogo Lidz, “The More Things Change will Push your Buttons” Newsweek, February 23.
2012 Jen Graves, “In Her Pants: Forty years after the rise of feminist art, Seattle artist Lynn Schirmer discovers something shocking.” A & P, #1, Spring, pp.11,12.
2006 Tantra Bensko, “Interview with Lynn Schirmer” Mad Hatter’s Review, October.
2002 Edward Gomez, “Art Against The Odds: Creativity as Salve for Trauma” New York Times, July 10.
Edward Gomez, “Raw Reviews” Raw Vision #40, Fall 2002, p. 64.
1993 Eve Ensler and Stacey Schrader, Editors, Central Park, New York, #22, Spring, pp. 94,151.


2002 Atelier Program, Seattle Academy of Fine Art, Seattle, WA.
1987 BFA, Industrial Design, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL.
1981 School of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


"Dissociative Identity Disorder Demystified", with Brian Moss, MA, LMFT, Seattle City Hall.

"Hollywood got us All Wrong: Challenging Common Misperceptions about Dissociative Identity Disorder", Highline College.

“Art & Activism: Finding Effective Ways to Tell”, The 2010 Annual SMART Conference, Windsor Locks, CT.
“Art & Activism: What The Public Sees”, Webinar for Survivorship.

“DID System Function”, Lecture and slide show. The 2006 Annual SMART Conference, Windsor Locks, CT.

“Non-State Actor Torture and Tax-funded Medical Experimentation in the US”. Seattle University Human Rights Film and Art Festival. Seattle, WA.

“Art As Evidence: A Recovery Retrospective”, Slide show. The 2004 Annual SMART Conference, Windsor Locks, CT.

“Child Torture and Medical Experimentation in the US”. Seattle University Human Rights Film and Art Festival. Seattle, WA.

Follow Me: