My work represents different people; men, women, and children dealing with different mental illnesses. My context deals with the struggles of those living with a mental illness and their recovery stories. As well as the conflicts that are being faced in the public due to stereotypical media portrayals and the conceptualizations, representations of the mentally ill that have been around for centuries. Living with a mental illness is hard enough. This affects family as well as friends because society doesn’t always represent and treat people with severe mental illness fairly. The ill become victimized due to their psychiatric labels. It is difficult for those with a mental disorder to face a world that misunderstands, devalues, and isolates them.
Through my artwork, I want to bring awareness to mental health issues because it’s a serious matter. Misrepresentational images of the mentally ill are painful and offensive. The stigma surrounding people with mental illnesses has created harm to those living with a mental illness and those developing an illness. These stereotypes are not new. In ancient Greek and Christian societies, people that were mentally ill were thought to be possessed by evil spirits. People that were mentally ill were adopted to numerous sever treatments as in starvation and beatings to drive out the demons. The Greeks saw the mentally ill as trained by evil and viewed madness to be a punishment by the gods. In the bible madness was seen as a godly punishment and Christians saw the mentally ill symptoms to be a possessed of the devil. Today media portrayals of people with mental illness as evil maintain the negative aura that has been long attached to mental illness.
Society sees the ill with distrust, fear, and dislike. The ill are also seen as worthless, unfunctional, and laughable. The media and movie industry has inaccurately depicted those with a mental illness as dangerous and violent people, especially in horror and comedy genres. These media portrayals normalize hurtful language towards people with mental disorders, terms like crazy, wacko, and insane are often used in everyday life. People with mental illnesses are people with disabilities who struggle day by day with their symptoms. To ignore the harmful media depiction of mental ill is to increase the suffering, rejection, stigma, humiliation, and confusion when afflicted with a mental illness. Mental illness stigma undermines recovery both by adding burden of secrecy and by isolating psychiatric patients from the needed social an emotional support. Stigmatization also undermines those who are developing a mental illness by discouraging treatment. Mental illness stigma leads to discrimination and reduces opportunities to those that are mentally ill. In my paintings, I have recently been working on diptychs that compare stereotypes from the media with realistic representations of mentally ill people.
In my content, I have been using the human figure, facial expressions, text, and media images of movie posters. I have also been depicting the symptoms of moods from each disorder though color by using the psychological effect of color, and the simultaneous contrast of color. To accomplish this, I use mediums such as clay, oil paint, acrylic, and gouache. In my ceramics, I use hand build techniques such as coils and pitch pots. For my oil paintings, I use traditional techniques and realistic rendering.
The mentally ill should not be discriminated against or insulted. Ultimately, societal representations, personal stories, and historical context concerning people with mental illness in America is my focus. I have been influenced by artists Francisco Goya, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Vincent Van Gogh.