As someone who suffers from many mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, I am plagued by uncertainty, low self-esteem, and paranoia. These works convey how such experiences impact my life, how I cope, how I experience the pain, and what these experiences mean to me as I face them head on each day. While the works reflect my daily struggle, they also evoke my healing process and my acceptance of identity.
The struggles of mental illness are portrayed by various means using mixed media on linen blankets. The intuitive use of brushstroke, mark making, and the range of colors represent the disorder and chaos experienced, while shape and line bring balance to these compositions, restoring to these a semblance of order.
The abstract renderings of brain structure and nerve cells represented in some of the pieces signify the dual physiological and social natures of mental illness; these “invisible” diseases encompass not only our bodies, but the world outside of ourselves. The faces and figures in these works are pitted, broken, and stuck in moments of lamentation, yet, the contemplative expressions reflect mindful meditative practices I have employed as a coping mechanism in my battle with mental illness.
I look to contemporary artists such as Trenton Doyle Hancock, Elly Smallwood, and Kai Samuels-Davis for inspiration in my work. Their work with mixed media, color, line, brushstroke, and portraiture were important visuals to assist in my work. Hancock’s drawing of trees and use of text, for example, was a great reference to work from when completing “Cutting it Down”. I was also inspired by the surrealistic styles of Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí and how they represented figures in unusual settings.
My battle with mental health has not been easy. My work conveys the brokenness I feel but also the search for truth in my attempts to heal. By looking at other contemporary artists and looking inward in the biological sense, I want my work to convey an acceptance of self and to throw away the fear of insecurity by seeking comfort in the discomfort.