Art and mental health awareness

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According to recent data from Mental Health America, nearly 20 percent of the US adults suffer from a mental illness. More than 2.5 million young people suffer from some form of depression. Art therapy remains one of the most important and most effective ways to deal with mental disorders.

Today we are featuring five artists who share their struggles and triumphs through art therapy.

Ally Zlatar

No One Can Hear the Pain’ by Ally Zlatar

The Canadian-born artist Ally Zlatar lets out a silent scream. The artist does not hesitate to share personal suffering in her figure paintings. Her work highlights how difficult it can be to get to the right ears.

Zlatar explores her identity through the lens of a longstanding eating disorder. In Zlatar’s work, mental anguish manifests itself through physical details—pale flesh, cool porcelain, hushed screams—that might otherwise be hidden.

Brenda Maria Fernandez

Heads’ by Brenda Maria Fernandez

Photographer Brenda Maria Fernandez’s nightmarish body of work, This is the Feeling You Thought You Had Repressed, steps into the strange recesses of a drug-addled psyche with powerful if frightening results. Working with pitch-black shadows and rich gemstone hues, Fernandez creates an isolated environment where vulnerable bodies stumble in dimly lit hellscapes.

Much of Fernandez’s work revolves around the feeling of being trapped, mentally or physically. Born and raised in the conservative city of Moneterry, Mexico, the young Fernandez discovered she “could escape the feeling of being trapped through art therapy.”

Alexis Rivierre

‘One Who Heals’ by Alexis Rivierre

The interdisciplinary artist works with a wide range of media, including textiles, photography, video, and performance. The work, initially meant to address communal healing in the wake of gun violence, took on added meaning with the pandemic’s onset.

Through an interdisciplinary, fractured, process the artist creates visual narratives that investigate the ways in which the representation of race through language and visual media plays a role in how people are socialized in the United States.

The work, originally intended to address issues of collective healing through art following gun violence, has taken on additional meaning with the onset of the pandemic.

Jaeyoun Shin

‘Through the Looking Glass’ by Jaeyoun Shin

Artist Jaeyoung Shin explores the universe of her subconscious. Each piece in Shin’s mixed-media series is visually tied by a pitch-black background, which represents the stillness of her mindscape. Shin describes “the boundary of safe and unsafe social environments.”

The dark backdrops in Through the Looking Glass also allude to Shin’s search for personal refuge in a strange land. As a form of healing through art, Shin began processing her anxieties and traumatic experiences through her artwork.

Tommy Devoid

A self-taught digital artist specializing in sardonic prints, Devoid offers a long-awaited antidote to the poisonously positive “live, laugh, love” slogan. You won’t find any headshots online, but the artist’s prankster persona shines through in works like “But Seriously Though” and “Keep Your Head Up”: “If I could be a bird,” Devoid’s signature skeleton muses, “I know exactly who I’d shit on.”

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