Winter 2018 Exhibit on Mental illness

Breaking the Taboo: The Unspoken Epidemic

Curated by Tami Chalom

About the Curator

My name is Tami Chalom and I am a 2nd year student with a Communications Studies major and Gerontology minor. I decided to curate this art exhibit to bring attention to mental illness and to encourage open discussion about it. Mental illness is extremely prevalent in society, especially among college students. Nearly everyone I meet has or knows someone who has depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. Over one out of every four adults are affected by mental illnesses, yet these diseases are under-recognized, under-treated, and seen as taboo. With any physical illness, afflicted individuals are given sympathy and care. However, individuals with mental health issues are often shamed and discouraged from getting evaluated, receiving treatment, and expressing their concerns. Many people still do not consider mental illness a real issue. But mental health is important and needs to be acknowledged and treated. Not only do mental illnesses affect the afflicted individuals, but they also affect those around them, including friends, family, and peers. Especially in the wake of the recent Florida High School shooting, we see how untreated mental illness can wreak havoc in society and affect us all. Unfortunately, very little money goes into mental health and many people can’t afford treatment; many insurances still do not cover it. This is extremely problematic and needs to change. Society must recognize the importance, severity, and widespread prevalence of mental illness in order to move forward and improve current conditions. Therefore, the goal of my exhibit is to bring mental illness to the forefront so we can discuss it openly, encourage people to get evaluated and treated, and improve support for individuals with mental illness.

 

Release_-_Angela_Nguyen.JPG 

Title: Release
Artist: Angela Nguyen
Medium: Water Color Paint

Release, by Angela Nguyen, depicts a young woman struggling with depression. The cool blue hues disseminate throughout the piece, emphasizing the way the illness completely takes over an individual. Blue is habitually used to symbolize sorrow and despair; therefore the artist’s choice of blue highlights the universality of depressive and gloomy emotions. However, at the same time, the blue in the girl’s hair transforms into tears dripping upwards off the page, demonstrating the idiosyncrasies and uniqueness of the disorder. While depression has similar affects on all, it manifests differently in everyone. Finally, the birds around the girl’s head flying away symbolize that depression is an illness that can go away at times, yet still stays with the individual.

 

Highs___Lows_-_Angela_Nguyen.JPG

Title: Highs & Lows
Artist: Angela Nguyen
Medium: Water Color Paint

Highs & Lows, by Angela Nguyen, illustrates bipolar disorder, accentuating the antithesis between the manic highs and depressive lows associated with the condition. On the left side, the girl is open, creative, smiling, and full of color and happiness; conversely, on the left side the girl is closed off, sullen, and less spontaneous. The contrast in color, texture, and brush stroke, represent the polar opposite sides seen in an individual afflicted by the disorder. The girl’s skin is grey and sunken at the bottom, because the disorder affects and restricts all parts of one’s life, even during the highs.

 

Testimony_-_Hannah_Kim.JPG

Title: Testimony
Artist: Hannah Kim
Medium: Oil Painting

Testimony, by Hannah Kim represents an individual’s personal testimony of mental battles, dealing with anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, and the artist’s journey to find peace and truth in her life. One of the many difficulties with mental illness is self-identification. The artists illustrates the confusion and distortion of self by blending together the faces and bodies of all those around her. While the green body in the middle belongs to the artist, it is unclear where the head (mind) connects with the body. It is also unclear where the artist’s body ends and those around hers begin. Moreover, all of the eyes in the painting are stretched out and tainted, blinded by past experiences and the influence of others. Still, the white on the right side symbolizes the artist’s aspiration to find hope, truth, and purity in oneself, regardless of the effect others have had on us.

 

Drowning_-_Saloni_Kothari.JPG

Title: Drowning
Artist: Saloni Kothari
Medium: Oil Painting

Drowning, by Saloni Korhari is a self portrait addressing the indecision and stress of making everyday choices. The portrait is a culmination of the many emotionally detrimental effects that mental illnesses inflict on individuals: self doubt, paranoia, worthlessness, shame, and pain. Moreover, the circular, swirling brushstrokes manifest the spiraling loss of control over cognitive faculties, breaking the boundary between reality and hallucinatory fantasy.

 

Eye_of_the_Storm_-_Lisa_Bass.JPG

Title: Eye of the Storm
Artist: Lisa Bass
Medium: Charcoal

Eye of the Storm, by Lisa Bass was drawn with the intention of portraying the beauty and strength in sadness and struggle. Depression is often quiet. It is a silent sadness hidden from others, but nonetheless powerful and consuming. As terrible as depression is, this piece recognizes that there is beauty in it as well: depression helps individuals learn about themselves. Those who are able to get treatment and overcome their illness grow stronger, appreciating life more. Without sadness, we cannot appreciate happiness.

 

Untitled_-_Lisa_Bass.JPG

Title: Untitled
Artist: Lisa Bass
Medium: Digital

This digital painting by Lisa Bass employs chiaroscuro to illustrate the contrast between the silent sadness and sense of vulnerability people struggling with depression and anxiety face, and the hope for recovery that follows the acceptance of pain. These two contrasting concepts are often at odds with each other in individuals with mental illness. While the dark despair may never disappear completely, the light can expand and foster the necessary hope and strength that is the corner stone to recuperation.

 

Shame_1_-_Giulianna_Pino.JPG

Title: Shame I
Artist: Giulianna Pino
Medium: Photography

Shame_2_-_Giulianna_Pino.JPG

Title: Shame II
Artist: Giulianna Pino
Medium: Photography

These photographs by Giulianna Pino illustrate the shame and humiliation associated with mental illness. While disease of any other part of one’s body brings sympathy, disease of the mind brings shame. Individuals suffering from mental illness are still ostracized and humiliated by society, despite the fact that those individuals are the ones most in need of others’ support.

 

Mansion_-_Tami_Chalom.JPG

Title: Mansion
Artist: Tami Chalom
Medium: Acrylic and Oil paint

Mansion, by Tami Chalom illustrates the entrapment individuals with mental illness often feel. The man in the paining is stuck inside a room in his mansion, symbolic of his mind. Each room represents different emotions and experiences. The writing on the sides (modified from NF’s song Mansion) describes the man’s struggle to trust again after suffering from physical abuse. He now struggles to let other’s inside and open his metaphorical door. Some of the words read, “Fear came to my house years ago, I let him in…He must have picked a room and settled in. I'm in the position to either sit here and let him win or put him back outside where he came from, but I never can. Because in order to do that I'd have to open the doors. Is that me or the fear talking? I don't know anymore.”

 

Broken__Not_Bent_-_Tami_Chalom.JPG

Title: Broken, Not Bent
Artist: Tami Chalom
Medium: Acrylic Painting

This piece, by Tami Chalom illustrates the emotional distortion that individuals with depression encounter. People with depression and anxiety often remain intellectually competent and rational. However, their unstable and exaggerated emotions can generate intense distress, causing them to get unreasonably angry. The artists highlights how volatile emotions overpower individuals’ logical thoughts by smearing the paint across the canvas, eliminating fine lines, blurring the division between emotional sentiment and cogent reason.

 

Coup_d'Esprit_-_Tami_Chalom.JPG

Title: Coup d’Esprit
Artist: Tami Chalom
Medium: Acrylic Painting

Coup d’Esprit, by Tami Chalom displays a soldier suffering with PTSD. According to national statics, over 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans developed PTSD and/or Depression. Furthermore, minorities are disproportionally affected, much less likely to get help, and much more likely to commit suicide than their white counterparts. While this painting only depicts one African American man, his tear is symbolic of the many. At the bottom of the page, the one tear becomes hundreds, highlighting the universality of PTSD among veterans. The green, orange, and purple—all secondary colors rather than primary, accentuate the lack of treatment given to black, hispanic, native american, and homosexual men and women. Rather than fixing the problem, the world neglects these brave soldiers who only sought to protect their country and the world; so the tears continue to fall off the canvas, ignored and forgotten.

 

River_of_Faces_-_Samaria_Carias.JPG

Title: River of Faces
Artist: Samaria Carias
Medium: Acrylic Painting

River of Faces, by Samaria Carias attests to the difficulty in expression for those struggling with depression. The inability to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings can create a never-ending cycle of feeling stuck and helpless.The flow of faces into a river of deterioration in the painting mirrors the individual’s sadness and feelings of isolation. However, the specks of color shining through allude to the hope of recovery and acceptance.

 

Untitled_-_Samaria_Carias.JPG

Title: Untitled
Artist: Samaria Carias
Medium: Watercolor and Acrylic Painting

This piece by Samaria Carias exemplifies an individual suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. The artist incorporated abstraction and action into the painting to mirror the chaotic state of the schizophrenic mind. Furthermore, the vivid colors represent the lucid torment schizophrenic individuals experience when trying to distinguish fantasy
from reality. Finally, some of the canvas is left unpainted to illustrate a break from the turmoil; there is still life outside of one's mind for schizophrenic individuals. However, those suffering often lose grasp of normal life because everything seems twisted and complicated in their minds. Still, despite any mental disorder, a being can remain vibrantly alive, different from those around him or her, but very much alive and strong.

 

Warrior_-_Serra_Bronkhorst.JPG

Title: Warrior
Artist: Sierra Bronkhorst
Medium: Acrylic Painting

In Warrior, by Sierra Bronkhorst, the artist composes her emotions into words, overlaying vertical and horizontal writing to utilize art in a unique way. In red, the words tell a story of pain and suffering, while the white provide encouragement and motivation to move forward. The artist writes over the bad with the good to illustrate that the bad will never disappear. All experiences remain apart of the individual; there will be good days and bad days, but it is important to force the good to be louder than the bad. As the artist completes this piece, she reaffirms that she is stronger than the negative pulling her down.

 

Open_your_Eyes_-_Sierra_Bronkhorst.JPG

Title: Open Your Eyes
Artist: Sierra Bronkhorst
Medium: Acrylic Painting

Open Your Eyes, by Sierra Bronkhorst emphasizes that we are often blind to other people’s problems. The poem in the background is difficult to make out, just as mental health and personal thoughts are difficult to see. Sometimes it can feel like we are stuck in a low place shouting out for help—loudly and obviously, but people just don’t see our suffering. The eyes in the painting are missing, underlining society’s blindness to mental illness. The piece also aims to highlight that society’s lack of open discussion and responsiveness is a huge problem with mental health and can lead afflicted individuals to feel invisible and even more ostracized than they already feel.

 

Star_Girl_-_Sierra_Bronkhorst.JPG

Title: Star Girl
Artist: Sierra Bronkhorst
Medium: Acrylic Painting

Star Girl, by Sierra Bronkhorst highlights the isolation individuals suffering with depression feel. Often those people feel like they are the only ones in the entire universe. They feel as if no one has their back in this cold world. The painting stresses the cold and unwelcoming nature of society by using only blue and black hues in the background. However, the piece also offers warmth, shown with the red and orange in the girl. The artist stresses that “while other’s may be unreliable, and you may feel totally alone, you will always have yourself. And at the end of the day, you need to love yourself, because you're the only guarantee in your life”.

 

 

 


 

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