Mental illness affects four million children and youths in the United States – of that demographic, only twenty percent are diagnosed and treated. Left untreated, mental disorders can have serious long-term implications for children, affecting their personal, social, and academic lives. However, because of the victimization and discrimination of the mentally ill community by an ignorant public, many children suffering from mental disorders are reluctant to share their struggles with peers, doctors, and even family members. Sadly, we live in a society that both vilifies and minimizes the gravity of mental illness, as the media portrays symptoms of mental health issues as personal quirks, fleeting cries for attention, and precursors of criminal intent. I believe that the key to combatting such ignorance and insensitivity is to educate youth about how to recognize and cope with psychological suffering. My illustrations are geared toward a youthful audience for this purpose. Each drawing serves as a window into the psyche, translating disturbed psychological realities into metaphorical emotional and physical experiences that any viewer can identify with. The illustrations are access points in the facades of black, illuminating realities clouded by ignorance. Yet, the chaotic arrangement removes the nature of the spectacle of art. This is not an exhibition – rather, it is an unmasking of metaphorical truths concealed by time-honored stereotypes, prejudices, and gross generalizations deeply engrained in our collective psyche.
Many thanks to Andrew Mount, for his constant support and encouragement in helping me realize my vision. Special thanks to John Schneider, Peter Freund, and the Gallery Exhibitions Team for their assistance in this project.