acrylic paint, glass shards, fabric, wool

Disappearing Girl Series

Alone is the second piece in my Disappearing Girl series. This body of work focuses on the crisis of teen girls and mental health that is facing society today. While the rate of mental health diseases has increased for all teens (pre-covid), girls are affected twice as much as boys by this increase. Covid has only added to these stressors. What are we doing as a society to cause this increased health crisis? What role does social media play in these increases? Why does it affect our daughters more than our sons? What can we do to change it?

These are the questions we need to struggle with as a society. We need to put mental health at the forefront of our discussions. We need to treat those who suffer from these diagnosis with the same care, concern, respect, and empathy that we do those with cancer. And we need to dedicate resources to help those in need.

Each piece in the Disappearing Girl Series is meant to help society deepen their empathy. Not sympathy, not pity, but empathy. Empathy requires you to be vulnerable and to feel what that person is going through. Each mixed media canvas is meant to help the viewer feel what the person is feeling. To vicariously feel what it is like to struggle with a mental illness.

Alone plunges us into depression. I wanted to capture the delicacy of human beings in contrast to the harshness the world can present. To capture the emptiness and isolation a person with depression feels. I will be honest that I started this one two years ago and then put it aside for quite a while.

Once my thyroid medication needed readjusting and sent me into depression. I would be having an amazing day and burst into tears and depression for no reason, out of the blue. I felt like I had no control. I was scared. For me, my doctor could adjust my thyroid medication and solve it. For most it isn’t that easy.

As a mother, I have watched and helped my child, my daughter, my baby suffer and worked endlessly to pull her from the jaws of this disease. She has said, “Mom, I wouldn’t be alive, if not for what you did.” But what about those who don’t have that help or who don’t tell anyone they are suffering out of fear of judgement or because they don’t have anyone they trust enough to tell?

So yes I put finishing this one off for a while because it required sitting deep in empathy and after living it for so long as a parent, I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want to face that feeling.

Last month I got a call from my brother, Marcus. It was like a punch to the stomach. I couldn’t focus on work or anything for days. I knew it was time to finish this piece. Grief shares a lot of similar feelings with depression and so it was time. I could let myself feel those feelings I didn’t want to empathize with.

Crushed, broken glass rods

The process was cathartic. It helped me feel and to heal. Because in order to make change we have to let ourselves feel.

Smashing blown glass into shards.

To Josh Bly: May you rest in peace. You died too young, and yet your big smile and blonde curls at age three, when I would come home from college, are those that pop into my head the most. I am so happy you followed your dreams. I wish I could have tasted your chef trained French cuisine or beautiful pastry work, almost too gorgeous to eat. You were an artist with food. I’m so glad you found happiness and love. But 38 is too young to die. No foul play, no suicide, no answers, just gone. Know you were loved little brother. Wishing eternal love and peace for you.

Alone and Too Much! on view at Hopkins Center for the Arts through May 8. Opening this Friday 6-8pm

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