Six to eight individuals with mental illness will have a part of their body, that has been affected by a specific mental illness, molded and reproduced in hyper-realistic sculpture.
The pieces of art will represent the stories and struggles of these brave men and women and how mental illness has affected them, not just mentally, but physically as well. Each sculpture will have a written component by the participant on how theirs lives have been changed by mental illness. It will all be shown during an immersive gallery exhibit during mental health awareness month, May 2022.
Through this exhibit we are creating awareness for the mental health community as a whole. Helping those who lack education about mental health to become informed in turn helping lower a vast stigma associated with it. Through these sculptures, I will be creating a visually impacting depiction and a sense of memory to what can happen when mental health is misunderstood and mental illness becomes out of hand. Allowing all who come to leave with a life changing memory about the importance of mental health within themselves and the community; to know that everyone is affected differently.
Mental health appears in many forms. As visual project about the mind and body, there is an emphasis put on individuals with physical signs and symptoms that resulted from their journey as they push forward to improve their mental wellbeing and overcome their mental illness. This is meant to leave a lasting visual impact to those who come to view, experience, and read the stories behind the sculptures; a reason why I have put emphasis on recreating the body with noticeable effects from a struggle with mental health and mental illness. That said, there will be sculptures without physical signs and you will be taken back by what they have been through.
It may not be noticeable to us but a person can be hiding a whole story underneath the clothing they are wearing, and even under their skin.
The Stigma of Mental Health:
With open, honest, and lasting conversation, we can change the stigma around mental illness
So much of Mental illness is still stigmatized, many people in today's society continue to fail and realize that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We do not try and hide the fact we broke our arm, we are in pain and we seek out help. Why do so many still feel shamed into keeping their mental state hidden? People who struggle should feel comfortable reaching out for help. Being able to confront the uncomfortable only makes each and everyone of us stronger. We all go through a lot of shit and never know how differently it can affect each other. We should not frown upon uncomfortable thoughts and we should not be so quick to judge. That is what so much of this project is about, taking a step back to realize whats going on inside the body’s of others and yourself, not to shame and judge at first sight and to not be afraid to speak up about how you are feeling; for some seeking help might mean the difference between life and death.
With help from you and the power of awareness, the stigma associated with mental health can be eliminated. Awareness and education can cause a flood of positive effects with in our community and our world; it is key to helping the uniformed understand what mental health and mental illness is.
Understanding the signs of mental illness can be a first step to finding the support that is needed. Knowing that stigma and discrimination are fueled by ignorance and misinformation you have the ability to educate yourself and others. You can create change.
With your help we can bring powerful artwork to fruition & with your help we can save a life.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S. 47.6 million adults and 7.7 million youth ages 6-17 experience mental illness in the U.S.
I will never forget one particular night after work; I cried, screamed, balled my eyes out while driving to get home in one piece only to stop and say I had enough, finally deciding to go through with my plan to end my life. I pulled over on the backroad, grabbed the glass bottle I had, opened the door, smashed it on the pavement, shined a light to find the sharpest piece, and you could imagine what happened next, but to my surprise headlights shined and on went the flashing lights.
Panicking, I got back into my car, eyes red, nose runny, and heart-pounding only to tell the cop who appeared out of thin air to "fuck off and leave me alone." He argued with me while I tried to deny what was going on and the action I was planning to take. He took the usual documents, cleared them, handed them back, I closed my window and left. Still extremely upset and angry, I parked closer to home to try again, only this time unable to follow through.
In the following weeks, I had finally decided it was time to change the miserable life I had been living for the past six years. My life had come with its wonderful moments and grateful artistic accomplishments, but I had drowned in my mind far more times than I can count. Within the last two years, I focused on improving my mental health, with the help of therapy, medication, and healthy eating, and am extremely grateful for how far I've come; to finally have a positive outlook on life.
But in all honesty, this brief description does not begin to the describe the pain and suffering brought forth from the years I battled with Depression, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsion Disorder; the ups and the downs, the being emotionally drained day after day, the hoping that each and every day you wake would be your last, it was never fun, it was torture.
I'm sure it has been the same for many others, but I believe with open, honest, and lasting conversation, change can happen and more people can find the help they need.
Even through my battle with depression, I have always been an artist, with a topic that resonates so deeply within myself, I truly hope to bring to life a memorable and informative depiction of the impact mental illness has on the body and on society. If you would like to learn more about my artistic career click here.
“What is depression like? It’s like drowning, except everyone around you is breathing.”- unknown
I am very excited to be working on such a powerful project, to put my skills to work, and to share the stories of people who have struggled with mental illness. My hope with "Under the Skin" is to raise awareness about mental health and the struggles and stigma that comes with.
The project hits close to home and I'm sure it may be the same for many others.
If you or a loved one are struggling with mental illness please don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Proudly supported by:
This project is funded in part by
the Orange County Arts Council's
Community Arts Grants.
For more information visit ocartscouncil.org
This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.
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