2018 – 2019
Through Embrace, I hope to disrupt and unsettle the view of madness and increase empathy for people living with mental illnesses. There is nothing inherently wrong with me. I’m hoping that my work can relay this to my audience, and help them understand how close we all are to madness. As a society, we can only go through the process of change and growth when we actively listen to each other’s stories and invest in social and mental wellness.
I have lived with bipolar disorder for the past eight years. It is a mental disorder that causes extreme moods, swinging from depressive to manic episodes. Other than a short series of episodes during my teenage years, this illness did not severely affect my quality of life until last year, when I came off of my medication in order to get pregnant. Depression and anxiety affected every part of my life, yet mental health never became a topic I could open up about. Unable to verbalize my pain, I turned to painting. Even as I struggled to hold my life together, the images that pooled onto the paper from my subconscious were vibrant and full of light. By making this work, I hope I can help my audience realize that madness is not far away or something to be feared.
This series is a new direction to my overall practice and my development as an artist. It is a visual journal that allows my mind to rest so that I can bear everything that feels unbearable. My art, which is usually carefully planned, extremely detailed, executed with slow-drying media, and focused outwards to my relationship with my community and my world, has turned inwards for the first time. I now paint with watercolours both due to my pregnancy and their fast-drying properties, which allow me to work small and quick.
I hope these watercolour sketches will create conversations and questions about sanity, instability and despair in order to think through mental illness and question ideas of madness. This work is an ongoing series that helps me make sense of myself while expressing my story to others. I hope that these paintings will take us into a realm of change and growth, where we can all feel accepted and understood.