My Work Is About Mental Health
This is not something you can see outright, and sometimes I fail to mention it due to the stigma of mental illness, but my artwork is largely about suffering from anxiety and depression. In honor of mental health awareness day, I am sharing the story of how I've covertly been making art about the ebbs and flows that come with depression.
Much of my work can be seen as a reflection of obsessive behavior in the every day. I focus on obsessive tendencies and thinking patterns, whether it is tunnel vision thinking or a fixation with health that leads to a repetitive workout regiment. Obsession is key to both alleviating and causing stress. Repetition and accumulation are major parts of my aesthetic approach to art-making. The knot has become central in my aesthetic vocabulary - linked to fetishism, connectivity, and familial ties while the act of tying knots is a method of coping with anxiety - reinforced through repetitive behavior. My tactile process involves a repetitive series of highly physical steps when slashing, tearing, knotting and stabbing in order to create.
There is a tactile, bodily connection to my work delicately structured through a painstaking process of repetition, accumulation, and seriality.The hand of the maker is evident in the final piece, Purging and Pouring. The dark silk emulates dedication to surface, texture and touch through puckering of material, points of tension and release in continuation throughout the piece, where the fetish broaches the ritualistic. The tangible physical form implies a desire to communicate. Gaping orifices posture the intense need to express or let something out. Conversation, communication or the act of purging is implicit within this gesture of release, where knots and ties pour from the surface, invading the space of the viewer, and thus causing confrontation and contemplation. When the knots enter our space, the work demands interaction and reflection. The outpour can be viewed as a necessary cleansing. The seductive material invites contemplation where the viewer can glean a poetic, emotional narrative of tension and release.
Recognize Growth does not hinge solely on a repetitive action. Instead, there is a rhythm that is almost balanced throughout the work. For the first time I utilize light, cheery colors in my installation. The piece reflects vulnerability, acceptance and progress. There is a balance of vibrance and darkness that I equate to a sense of growth paired with the ebbs and flows of life, a recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth. Borrowing from previous work, Purging and Pouring, my new configuration utilizes the tangible physical forms which imply a desire to communicate in areas throughout the piece. The outpour can be viewed as a necessary cleansing. Where the dark knotted strands seem ominous, the soft peach strands unpack an entirely different narrative, communicating ones needs and having the courage to be honest with others and oneself. These forms can be seen flourishing as a result in flowery upholstered blossoms.
As a whole, the installation relies on parts and counterparts. These pieces complete or compliment one another though they are different, from soft and silky, to sticky and weighted they act together to strike a balance. The material use and configuration is playful and thought provoking. The work merely hangs unsteadily, where pins fasten a composition, allowing a sense of instability that keeps the work from becoming static or feeling finished – the struggle and growth is continuous after all. The upholstered objects can be seen as seductive, comical, weighted, erotic or absurd. The contrasting material invites contemplation where the viewer can glean a poetic, emotional narrative of tension and release, decline and regrowth.
Making art about what I am going through helps me to better understand myself and overcome some of these day-to-day struggles. It is a constant battle, but the need to communicate is there. That's why I talk about it with family, close friends and of course with my therapist. I hope by being honest about my art others will be inspired to communicate, seek help and practice self-care through journaling, art-making and expressing themselves.
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