Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with debilitating clinical depression. After two years I started climbing out of the hole. I learned letterpress printing, bookbinding and making artists’ books. Several years ago I started forming ideas for an installation about depression.
Statistics show depression
· affects over 18 million Americans belonging to any gender and age;
· is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44;
· affects twice as many women as men
· is seen by 55% of Americans as a weakness to be dealt with personally. (Alarmingly, more than 50% of men and women are quite embarrassed to seek professional help once they have been diagnosed with clinical depression).
Creativity is a basic instinct and the release of creative energy is essential for mental health in any person. The process of creating art and the final object are a form of communication between creator and observer, with the resulting object being the conclusion. In most of my undergraduate work I have found the process almost more interesting than the end result, for in a number of cases it has proven to be a journey of self-discovery and catharsis. The subject of my dissertation was “A Necessary Journey – The translation of dealing with loss and subsequent grief into art”, written after my sister passed away. Depression is part of the grieving process, so I can draw from the extensive research I did at the time.
I want to translate emotions related to depression into visual elements, for people to witness and develop a greater comprehension of the many facets of depression. These depression statistics show that there is clearly a need for awareness regarding this neglected condition. Plus it is my way of getting back at the beast!
I would also welcome the opportunity to utilize these works in gallery exhibits to create a connection between the visual arts and their healing nature, particularly to profile the plight of people faced with debilitating depression and the benefits of the arts as an underutilized healing mechanism. After all, I use my art to purge or enhance my emotions.
As a base I am using the book. Then on top of, and embedded in these bases, 2D and/or 3D objects and text will represent various emotions. Text wise I intend to use, among others, quotes from other artists who have suffered, and worked through, their depression. There will be a series of books, open at “different chapters”, which represent the different stages of the depression. All this in black, white, and gray.
Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self - to the mediating intellect - as to verge close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode.
- William Styron in Darkness Visible