By focusing on artworks made by persons confronting their own mortality, this essay explores the relation between the exterior, visible colors of art and the interior experiences of pain and imagination, as mediated through the process of artistic production by persons living with a sick or unstable body. As color always contains hidden shades that are wrapped up within personal biography, the imagination, and diverse existential circumstances, I argue that colors contained in these artworks can never be “pure,” for they are too contaminated by disease, death, emotion, and imagination for the purposes of cognitive science and are too intertwined with a specific personal biography and bodily experience to offer a straightforward account of shared social and cultural practices.

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