Five Artists Raising Awareness for Mental Health Through Their Artwork
By Taniqua Carthens
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in four adults in the U.S. experience a significant mental illness every year. Of that four, only two are expected to seek treatment, despite a recent increase in access to care and a decline in stigmatization. For many, it is difficult to communicate the struggles of everyday life with a mental health diagnosis, so they turn to expressing their innermost thoughts through works of art. The following artists find solace in their craft and share some of their most intimate interpretations of what life is like with mental illness.
In Abstract Peaces, Tsoku Maela portrays his personal encounters with depression. Abstract Peaces seeks to highlight the misunderstanding of mental illness in the black community by showing the various stages of anxiety and depression. This series is not intended to focus on the negatives of mental illness, but instead encourages the audience to find beauty in themselves and in their struggles. African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience mental illness, but stigmatization surrounding seeking help discourages willingness to obtain help.
Kazuki Takizawa uses glassblowing to cultivate his experience with mental illness while seeking to inspire others to be outspoken about their own mental health. Takizawa is part of the Asian-American community, of which less than ten percent seek services for mental health, amongst the lowest of any group in the U.S. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in college, Takizawa turned to art to communicate his thoughts when words could not. He uses elements of glassblowing such as shape and texture to express suicide awareness and mental health. See his In Between Light and Shadow installation that highlights mental illness and suicide prevention
Kim Noble is a contemporary artist affected by Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder. This disorder is characterized by the existence of two or more identities, each of which can have their own age, background, gender and even race or species. Noble is the host to twenty identities, around fifteen of which have a passion for the visual arts. Each one of her identities tell a different story through their art, like Abi, who uses realism to express loneliness and desire for love, or Judy, whose expressions are a reflection of Noble’s teenaged self who suffered from bulimia. Explore more work from Kim Noble on her website:
John William Keedy
In his photo series, It’s Hardly Noticeable, John William Keedy characterizes the nuances of life with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting around 18 percent of the American population. Anxiety disorders are described as an inappropriate, uncontrolled or disruptive response to a stimulus or trigger. Keedy challenges what it means to be “normal” by showcasing how activities of daily living are affected by obsessive behaviors. This series gives audiences a first-person perspective of what it means to struggle with an “invisible” or hardly noticeable disorder.
Edward Honaker uses self-portrait photography to capture his experience with depression and anxiety. Upon his diagnosis, Honaker turned to his art to help himself and others understand mental illness and start a dialogue about the subject. One of Honaker’s goals for this series is to bring light to the stigmatization surrounding men’s mental health. Depression affects about seven percent of the U.S. adult population and though women are more likely to have a depressive episode, men are less likely to recognize the symptoms or seek help. View his portfolio below:
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental illness or thoughts of suicide, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or find a therapist near you at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.
Edited by Sasha Jones